According to the United Nations University Study, Asia is producing an alarming amount of e-waste. In the last five years (2010-2015), it has increased by an average of 63 percent.
The reports looking at twelve countries — Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Province of China, Thailand, and Vietnam reveals that millions of tons of e-waste have been created over five years in the region. Resultantly, it has the potential to cause severe health problems among the people.
For many years, Asian countries including China have been a dumping ground for discarded electronics. This number in China has been more than doubled to 6.7 million tons in five years.
Hong Kong is the biggest producer of e-waste with each person in the Chinese territory generating an average of 21.7 kilograms (47.8 pounds) in 2015. Singapore and Taiwan have the second highest per-capita producers of e-waste with over 19 kilograms per person generated in 2015.
A huge amount of e-waste from the developed countries ends up in the developing countries. According to The Intercept, around one-third of U.S. devices ended up in countries like Taiwan, Pakistan and Kenya where they are often dismantled in informal workshops.
We have previously reported that Pakistan is a dump site for up to 46 percent of the world’s electronic waste, worth nearly US $9 billion. The legal and illegal trading of discarded electronics are disguised as useable materials as people prefer them over buying new products.
The rising rate of e-waste in Asia and Pakistan poses severe health threats as many dismantling of these products are done through Informal recycling. The report states that many such recyclers are using chemicals in a process known as “acid bathing” to reclaim gold, silver, palladium and copper from old circuit boards and wires.