5.3 billion smartphones will become electronic waste by 2022

Smartphones and modern mobiles are devices made to have a short life expectancy, which, together with their tremendous massification, will lead, according to an estimate made by the Forum on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), in which some 5.3 billion modern smartphones and mobiles will be thrown away in 2022 alone.

The WEEE Forum is an international non-profit organization that focuses on the collection and treatment of electrical and electronic waste. The organization, as a way to commemorate the international day of electronic waste, explains that, if the mobile devices that will be discarded in the year 2022 were stacked on top of each other with an average depth of 9 millimeters, as a result they would rise approximately 50,000 kilometers, which would mean 120 times more than the height of the International Space Station and an eighth of the way that would take us to the Moon. On the other hand, there are currently about 16 billion smartphones in the possession of people.

The situation is even more shocking if we take into account that the devices contain valuable materials such as gold, copper, silver, palladium and other components that can also be recycled. However, most are expected to end up abandoned in drawers, closets, cupboards or garages, and that’s when they are not thrown into rubbish bins to end up in landfills or incinerated. Another interesting fact is that mobile phones rank fourth among the small electrical and electronic products that consumers hoard most frequently.

In addition to estimating the number of wasted mobile phones, the WEEE Forum has published the results of surveys carried out in various countries of the European Union, which were Portugal, the Netherlands, Italy, Romania and Slovenia, as well as the United Kingdom apart . The result was that each household has an average of 74 electronic products including tablets, laptops, power tools, hair dryers, toasters and other appliances (excluding lamps), of which 13 are in stockpiles, with an average of 9 unused and another 4 broken.

The five most accumulated small electrical and electronic products in households in the countries that participated in the surveys were, in the following order, small consumer electronics and accessories (headphones, remote controls…), small household equipment (watches, irons… ), small information technology equipment (external hard drives, routers, keyboards, mice… ), cell phones and smartphones, and small food preparation equipment (toasters, food processing, grills… ).

The main reasons for hoarding electrical and electronic equipment are the possibility of using it again in the future (46%), the possibility of selling it or giving it away (15%), the sentimental value (13%), the possibility that it has a value in the future (9%) and not knowing how to get rid of it (9%).

As we can see, not only mobile phones are being a problem in terms of electronic waste, but also the increasing number of electrical and electronic gadgets that we have in our homes, which, on many occasions, are created following aggressive policies of programmed obsolescence.

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