In 2011, the world threw away 41.5 million tonnes of electrical equipment, and this is expected to rise to 93.5 million tonnes by 2016. This is a concern because dumped electronic consumer goods are, essentially, toxic waste. Old-style televisions and CRT monitors contain lead and phosphorous pentachloride, printed circuit boards contain arsenic, cadmium, mercury and bromides, and fridges contain CFCs. Buried in landfill, broken up improperly or burnt, these toxins can be exposed to the air or leach out into the soil and into the water table, and this has caused a healthcare crisis.
But e-waste also comprises small amounts of valuable metals such as high-quality copper, gold, silver and palladium. This means that despite being thrown away in the West, junk electronics represent a quality raw material for waste processing industries, especially in the developing world.
There is considerable concern about illegal export to Africa and Asia.
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Keywords: supply chain risk management, electronics reverse supply chain, e-waste regulations, logistics & supply chain, supply chain management, green logistics, sustainable supply chains