E-waste is growing exponentially simply because the market in which these products are produced is also growing rapidly as many parts of the world cross the so called ‘digital divide’. For example, between 2000 and 2005, the Organisation of Economic and Cooperative Development (OECD) notes a 22% growth in Information Communication Technology (ICT) in China1.
Furthermore, China was the 6th largest ICT market in 2006, after the US, Japan, Germany, UK and France.2 This is astounding when one considers that just ten years ago, under 1% of China’s population owned a computer3. Computers are only one part of the e-waste stream though, as we see that in the EU in 2005, fridges and other cooling and freezing appliances, combined with large household appliances, accounted for 44% of total e-waste, according to UNU’s Study supporting the 2008 Review of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive.4 Rapid product innovations and replacement, especially in ICT and office equipment, combined with the migration from analogue to digital technologies and to flat-screen TVs and monitors, for example, are fuelling the increase. Economies of scale have given way to lower prices for many electrical goods, which has increased global demand for many products that eventually end up as e-waste.
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Blue Star Electronics, LLC (e-waste recycling company)