As developing nations such as India and China continue down the road to prosperity, it’s not surprising that their citizens have been eager to spend their newfound wealth on material possessions. Makers of consumer goods are increasingly turning their attention to the developing world as a potentially huge market. All that consumption will ultimately lead to something else, however - a glut of worn-out, obsolete electronic products, chock-full of toxic substances. In fact, according to a new report from the American Chemical Society, by 2030 the e-waste generated by developing nations will be double that of the developed world.
The authors of the report, "Forecasting Global Generation of Obsolete Personal Computers," used a computer model to extrapolate current trends. They predict that in 20 years, developing nations will be discarding 400-700 million personal computers annually. Developed nations, by contrast, will be throwing out 200-300 million a year. This increase in e-waste will be due not only to increased computer ownership, but also to technological advances causing computers to become obsolete faster.
Another suggestion is an economic incentive for proper recycling, wherein e-waste dismantlers would make more money by taking parts to official recycling centers, than by trying to do it themselves.
Whatever approach is taken, the report proposes that costs could be offset by recycling deposits. These would be paid by the consumer at the point of purchase, and tracked throughout the device’s lifetime by a radio frequency identification device.
The ACS report presents a picture strikingly similar to one recently presented by the United Nations.
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