International E-Waste Day

It is estimated that 50 million tonnes of e-waste will be generated globally in 2019. Half of this is personal devices such as computers, screens, smartphones, tablets and TVs, with the remainder being larger household appliances and heating and cooling equipment.

International E-Waste Day was developed in 2018 by the WEEE Forum with the support of its members. The day is used to raise the public profile of e-waste recycling and encourage consumers to recycle their e-waste with the resulting increase in e-waste recycling rates on the day itself and into the future.

The second International E-Waste Day took place on 14 October 2019. 112 organisations from 48 countries took part in the day with activities ranging from conferences to social media campaigns. You can see the overview of the activities here. The activities received high profile press coverage, with numerous organisations appearing on national television to discuss the  initiative. EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, recorded a special message for International E-Waste Day and we were pleased to have the partnership of UN body, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for 2019.

On the first International E-Waste Day in 2018, members of the WEEE Forum and external stakeholders joined the initiative, resulting in a total of more than 50 organisations from over 40 different countries worldwide being involved.  Initiatives undertaken in 2018 included:

  • Conferences and events;
  • School collection days;
  • Information campaigns in stores and recycling centres;
  • On-line guide for proper e-waste disposal;
  • Circular Economy games for schools; and
  • Social media competitions.
International E Waste Social Media Forum Grn AW

All of these were promoted locally on and around the International E-waste Day. Consumers are key to e-waste recycling and we have high aspirations that this campaign can have a huge impact on their habits.

Only 20% of global e-waste is recycled each year, which means that 40 million tonnes of e-waste are either placed in landfill, burned or illegally traded and treated in a sub-standard way and this is despite 66% of the world’s population being covered by e-waste legislation. This results in the huge loss of valuable and critical raw materials from the supply chain and causes serious health, environmental and societal issues through illegal shipments of waste to developing countries.

Even in the EU, which leads the world in e-waste recycling, only 35% of e-waste is officially reported as collected and recycled and the lack of public awareness is preventing countries from developing circular economies for electronic equipment.