In 2022, a massive 5.3 billion mobile phones around the world became e-waste. Only a small fraction of them were disposed of properly.

Despite containing valuable gold, copper, silver, palladium and other recyclable components, experts believe that most cell phones disappear into drawers, closets, cupboards or garages, or are tossed into waste bins once they are no longer needed.

Last year, the International Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum conducted a survey of almost 9000 households about e-waste. They found that the average household contains 74 e-products such as phones, tablets, laptops, and electric tools, and that 13 of these are either broken or unused.

The top 5 hoarded small e-waste products were:

  • Consumer electronics and accessories (e.g. headphones, remote controls)
  • Household equipment (e.g. clocks, irons)
  • IT equipment (e.g. external hard drives, routers, keyboards, mice)
  • Mobile and smart phones
  • Kitchen appliances (e.g. toasters, food processors, grills)

The survey also suggested that people did not know how to deal with their own e-waste. Many people said they worried about the environmental effect of unused devices but did not know what to do with them or were concerned about the security of recycling schemes.

The top 5 reasons for hoarding e-waste were:

  • I might use it again in the future (46%)
  • I plan on selling it / giving it away (15%)
  • It has sentimental value (13%)
  • It might have value in the future (9%)
  • I don’t know how to dispose of it (7%)

WEEE Director General Pascal Leroy said “We focused this year on small e-waste items because it is very easy for them to accumulate unused and unnoticed in households, or to be tossed into the ordinary garbage bin. People tend not to realise that all these seemingly insignificant items have a lot of value and together at a global level represent massive volumes.”

Urban Miners can assist recycling with electronics and accessories, IT equipment, mobile phones and household appliances. Look out your e-waste and get along to our next collection event!