The report found that 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste were generated in 2016, an increase of 3.3 million metric tonnes from 2014 and predicts that the total will rise to 52.2 million metric tonnes by 2021.
In 2016, only 20% of e-waste was documented to be collected and recycled, which suggests that improper disposal through burning or landfill is being undertaken. This poses significant risks to human health and the environment as well as a loss of high value recoverable materials, including gold, silver and copper that could be salvaged. The total value of raw materials present in e-waste generated in 2016 is estimated at 55 Billion Euros.
E-waste legislation can mitigate the risk of improper disposal and facilitate the adoption of circular economy models. The number of countries adopting legislation has increased since 2014. 67 countries now have e-waste legislation covering 66% of the world population. This is an increase from the 44% that were covered in 2014.