A new study by researchers at the University of Waterloo has found that the amount of e-waste in Canada has more than tripled in the past 20 years.
Their study, published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, suggests that e-waste is “steadily increasing” in Canada. The researchers say that in 2020, nearly a million tons of e-waste was generated in Canada, while less than 20 percent of it was collected and recycled.
According to the authors, this amount of e-waste corresponds to “filling the CN Tower 110 times over”.
The researchers say they conducted the study to understand the life cycle, from sale to disposal, of electronic devices in Canada, such as computers, cell phones, toys, refrigerators and washing machines.
According to the study, the amount of e-waste generated per person has increased from 8.3 kilograms in 2000 to 25.3 kilograms in 2020 and will continue to increase in the near future.
Researchers believe that the growth in e-waste is due to consumer habits as well as the increase in the number of households.
“This study provides useful insights for policymakers to set e-waste reduction and recycling targets to recover valuable resources from e-waste,” said Komal Habib, professor in the University of Waterloo’s School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, in a Press release published on Monday. “E-waste could also help build a secondary supply chain for critical materials, reducing the risk of potential supply disruptions.”
The study examined e-waste from 198 product types from 1971 to 2030 and estimated that e-waste will increase to 1.2 million tons in Canada by 2030.
According to the study, the amount of e-waste generated annually worldwide is estimated at 2.5 million tons and will increase to 74.7 million tons by 3030.
Researchers suggest that more attention should be paid to improving the ability to repair, refurbish and extend product life, rather than focusing solely on recycling and material recovery.
“The results will be useful for stakeholders to explore potential opportunities to generate material and revenue from e-waste,” added Habib. “For example, it can help electronics manufacturers and recyclers understand the potential of urban mining, plan for future extraction of critical materials, and determine the need for safe handling of hazardous materials.”
Coverage for this story was paid for by the Meta-funded Afghan Journalists-in-Residence project.