More than five billion of the estimated 16 billion mobile phones able to be rescheduled or stashed away in 2022, according to experts, urging for more recycling of the often hazardous materials they contain.
The WEEE research consortium claims that many disused phones will range 50,000 kilometers faster than the International Space Station.
Despite containing valuable gold, copper, silver, palladium, and other recyclable components, nearly all these unwanted devices will be hoarded, de-mped or incinerated, causing significant health and environmental damage.
"Smartphones are one of the most important electronics for us," says Pascal Leroy, the Director General of the WEEE Forum, a non-profit organization based in forty-six producer responsibility organizations.
"If we don''t recycle the rare materials they contain, we''ll have to mine them in countries like China or Congo," Leroy said of the company.
According to the global e-waste monitor, defunct cellphones are just the tip of the 44.48 millionton iceberg of global electronic waste generated annually that isn''t recycled.
According to a survey in six European countries from June through September 2022, many of the five billion phones removed from circulation will be hoarded rather than dumped in the trash.
In drawers, closets, cupboards, or garages, households and businesses forget about cellphones rather than taking them in for repair or recycling.
According to the analysis, up to five kilograms of e-devices per person are currently hoarded in the average European family.
According to the new findings, 46 percent of the 8,775 households investigated consider future use as the main reason for hoarding small electrical and electronic equipment.
Another 15 percent are stocking their gadgets with the intention to sell or sell them, while 13 percent are keeping them due to their "sentimental value."
The issue of a social war
"People tend not to realize that all of these seemingly insignificant items have a lot of value, and together at a global level, according to Pascal Leroy.
Because of the high cost, e-waste will never be collected freely. That is why legislation is vital.
This month, the European Parliament approved a new law requiring that USB Type-C be the standard for all new smartphones, tablets, and cameras starting late 2024.
The move is expected to generate at least EUR 200 million (nearly Rs. 1,600 crore) annually and reduce more than a thousand tonnes of EU electronic waste each year.
According to Kees Balde, the senior scientific specialist at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), legislation in Europe has led to increased e-waste collection rates in the region comparativement to other parts of the globe.
"At European level, 50-50 percent of e-waste is collected or recycled," Balde told AFP. "Our findings in low-income countries have dropped to less than 5 percent, sometimes even less than one percent."
Thousands of tons of e-waste are shipped every year from wealthy nations, including members of the European Union, to developing countries, increasing their recycling burden.
Chemicals such as mercury and plastic can contaminate soil, pollute water, and enter the food chain at the receiving end, as happened near a Ghanaian e-waste dumpsite.
The IPEN and the Basel Action Network conducted a research in the West African country in 2019 reveals a level of chlorinated dioxins in hens'' eggs at the Agbogbloshie dumpsite in the region of Accra, 220 times higher than those observed in Europe.
"We have moved mountains in Europe," said the director of the WEEE Forum, Pascal Leroy. "We have now had the task of transfering knowledge to other parts of the world."