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Press release

Electronic waste rising five times faster than documented e-waste recycling: UN

A record 62 million tonnes (Mt) of e-waste was produced in 2022

Geneva / Bonn, 20 March 2024
  • ​​E-waste up 82 per cent from 2010.
  • E-waste on track to rise another 32 per cent, to 82 million tonnes, in 2030.
  • Billions of dollars worth of strategically-valuable resources squandered, dumped.
  • Just 1 per cent of rare earth element demand is met by e-waste recycling.

​The world's generation of electronic waste is rising five times faster than documented e-waste recycling, the UN's fourth Global E-waste Monitor (GEM) reveals today. 

The 62 million tonnes of e-waste generated in 2022 would fill 1.55 million 40-tonne trucks, roughly enough trucks to form a bumper-to-bumper line encircling the equator, according to the report from ITU and UNITAR. 

Meanwhile, less than one quarter (22.3 per cent) of the year's e-waste mass was documented as having been properly collected and recycled in 2022, leaving USD 62 billion worth of recoverable natural resources unaccounted for and increasing pollution risks to communities worldwide. 

Worldwide, the annual generation of e-waste is rising by 2.6 million tonnes annually, on track to reach 82 million tonnes by 2030, a further 33 per cent increase from the 2022 figure. 

E-waste, any discarded product with a plug or battery, is a health and environmental hazard, containing toxic additives or hazardous substances such as mercury, which can damage the human brain and coordination system. 

The report foresees a drop in the documented collection and recycling rate from 22.3 per cent in 2022 to 20 per cent by 2030 due to the widening difference in recycling efforts relative to the staggering growth of e-waste generation worldwide. 

Challenges contributing to the widening gap include technological progress, higher consumption, limited repair options, shorter product life cycles, society's growing electronification, design shortcomings, and inadequate e-waste management infrastructure. 

The report underlines that if countries could bring the e-waste collection and recycling rates to 60 per cent by 2030, the benefits - including through minimizing human health risks - would exceed costs by more than USD 38 billion. 

It also notes that the world “remains stunningly dependent" on a few countries for rare earth elements, despite their unique properties crucial for future technologies, including renewable energy generation and e-mobility.  


“ Amidst the hopeful embrace of solar panels and electronic equipment to combat the climate crisis and drive digital progress, the surge in e-waste requires urgent attention."
​      - Nikhil Seth, Executive Director, UNITAR   

“From discarded televisions to dumped telephones, an enormous amount of e-waste is generated around the world. The latest research shows that the global challenge posed by e-waste is only going to grow. With less than half of the world implementing and enforcing approaches to manage the problem, this raises the alarm for sound regulations to boost collection and recycling. The Global E-waste Monitor is the world's foremost source for e-waste data allowing us to track progress over time and to make critical decisions when it comes to transitioning to a circular economy for electronics."  
     Cosmas Luckyson Zavazava, Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau  

“No more than 1 per cent of demand for essential rare earth elements is met by e-waste recycling. Simply put: Business as usual can't continue. This new report represents an immediate call for greater investment in infrastructure development, more promotion of repair and reuse, capacity building, and measures to stop illegal e-waste shipments. And the investment would pay for itself in spades." 
     - Kees Baldé, lead author, UNITAR  

“Many in today's society use multiple computers and phones, an ever-growing number of new appliances, monitors and sensors, e-bikes, e-scooters, clothes, toys, and furniture with embedded electronics, electric tools, and energy-saving equipment such as LEDs, photovoltaics, and heat pumps. Urban and remote areas are increasingly connected to the Internet, and a growing number of data centers cater to the needs of the digital transformation. In the face of all this, concrete steps are urgently needed to address and reduce e-waste. Improved e-waste management could result in a global net positive of USD 38 billion, representing a significant economic opportunity while addressing climate change and health impacts." 
     - Ruediger Kuehr, Senior Manager, Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) Programme,
       UNITAR / Adjunct Professor, University of Limerick (Ireland)

“The Global E-waste Monitor shows that we are currently wasting USD 91 billion in valuable metals due to insufficient e-waste recycling. We must seize the economic and environmental benefits of proper e-waste management; otherwise, the digital ambitions of our future generations will face significant risks." 
     Vanessa Gray, Head, Environment & Emergency Telecommunications Division,
        ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau 

 By the numbers: Recycling rates E-waste by category, selected examples Among the report's many observations: ​About the Global E-waste Monitor
Since 2014, the Global E-waste Monitor has been the world's foremost source of up-to-date data and reporting on progress in policy, regulation, and offering projections. The 2024 edition is a collaborative product of the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership with support from the Fondation Carmignac. 
About ITU
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs), driving innovation in ICTs together with 193 Member States and a membership of over 1,000 companies, universities, and international and regional organizations. Established in 1865, it is the intergovernmental body responsible for coordinating the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoting international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, improving communication infrastructure in the developing world, and establishing the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems. From broadband networks to cutting-edge wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, oceanographic and satellite-based earth monitoring as well as converging fixed-mobile phone, Internet and broadcasting technologies, ITU is committed to connecting the world. Learn more:

As a dedicated training arm of the United Nations System, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) provides innovative learning solutions to individuals, organizations and institutions to enhance global decision-making and support country-level action for shaping a better future.  UNITAR was created in 1963 to train and equip young diplomats from newly independent UN Member States with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate through the diplomatic environment.  Over the years, UNITAR has acquired unique expertise and experience in designing and delivering a variety of training and learning activities, benefiting learners mainly from developing countries. With the strategy fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda, we support Governments and other stakeholders to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. 

The Bonn, Germany-based Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) Programme, hosted by UNITAR, provides world-class research and action on e-waste. SCYCLE aims to enable societies to reduce the environmental burden caused by the production, consumption and disposal of ubiquitous goods. Visit