International E-Waste Day has been developed by the WEEE Forum, an international association of e-waste collection organisations. The Day seeks to encourage users to consider repairing their appliances or correctly disposing of them with the resulting increase in re-use, recovery and recycling rates. Last year more than 50 organisations from over 40 countries worldwide were involved and organised many different types of promotional activities, ranging from conferences and workshops, school and street collection campaigns to social media competitions and campaigns, and online guides and games.
Pascal Leroy, Director General of the WEEE Forum, said, “The volume of e-waste is continually increasing and contains many valuable as well as hazardous materials that should be recovered or properly treated when items are discarded.”
According to the UN, only an estimated 20% of global e-waste is recycled each year, which means that around 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.
In 2018, Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries expressed his support for the International E-Waste Day by saying “This is exactly the sort of events that Europe needs. It raises awareness on how electronic waste is a big issue, but it goes further by highlighting what you can do to manage, reduce and recycle”. He continued “Electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream all around the world. Europe produces more of this waste per capita than anywhere else. But as we all know it isn’t really waste. It is a valuable resource and too often it goes to waste. When we recycle e-waste, it pays off for the environment, it pays off for the industry and it pays off in jobs”.