According to the International Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Forum (%WEEE), up to 5.3 billion smartphones from major manufacturers such as Apple ($AAPL) are expected to be discarded this year.
“Smartphones are one of the electronic products that we are most concerned about,” said Pascal Leroy, Director General of the WEEE Forum, a non-profit organization that represents 46 producer responsibility organizations.
According to a survey conducted in six European countries from June to September 2022, many of the five billion phones withdrawn from circulation will be hoarded rather than discarded. This occurs when individuals and businesses leave cell phones in drawers, closets, cupboards, or garages instead of bringing them in for repair or recycling. According to the report, the average European family has up to five kilos (8 pounds) of electronic devices.
At the receiving end, financial means are frequently lacking for e-waste to be treated safely: hazardous substances such as mercury and plastic can contaminate soil, pollute water, and enter the food chain, as happened near a Ghanaian e-waste dumpsite.
The IPEN and Basel Action Network conducted research in the West African country in 2019 and discovered a level of chlorinated dioxins in hen eggs laid near the Agbogbloshie dumpsite, near central Accra, that was 220 times higher than levels permitted in Europe.
“We have moved mountains in Europe,” said WEEE Forum director Pascal Leroy. “The challenge now is to transfer knowledge to other parts of the world.”