eWaste - the potential dangers to global health

Only a small fraction of the eWaste generated around the globe is captured and processed with due regard to health & safety and environmental protection. The vast majority ends up in developing countries where it causes massive damage to human health, and significant air, water and soil pollution.

Yet public awareness of this issue is relatively low.

Harmful toxins

Electronics contain lead which can damage our central nervous system and kidneys

70% of toxic waste

eWaste comprises 70% of our overall toxic waste, and currently only 12.5% of eWaste is recycled.

eWaste - toxic for all

When recycling isn't recycling

Much of our eWaste heads for landfills in Asia or Africa, where the methods used in recycling are damaging both to the environment and the employees working there.

Electrical waste items are often buried or incinerated in landfills where their toxins pollute the land, air and water. More often than not, they are sent to developing countries where workers are expected to risk their health to extract the precious metals from the discarded electronics.

Workers on eWaste sites are paid an average of $1.50 per day. They are unprotected while working with the toxic substances on the site. They are the first to inhale the toxins that are released in the air when electronic parts are burned. And not all are adults: some are even children!

A gadget revolution

Recently the incredible pace of technological advancement – not to mention relatively cheaper costs of gadgets – has led to a massive increase in electronic items being produced, consumed, and disposed of around the world

Disposable culture

But despite the promises to improve our lives in every way, at every turn, all personal and domestic items now have an inbuilt obsolescence. This inherent disposability means we now treat every item as garbage the moment it fails

Like old socks

Rather than repairing, fixing, or restoring our electrical and electronic items, we now choose to discard just like we would an old pair of socks. At one time they’d be mended and reused – now we merely replace old with new

Slow change

Changes are being made around the UK, europe and the world, but it’s all rather slow. We all know we could be doing something about this but often don’t take the final step towards making a real, lasting change

Circular economy

The answer isn’t to recycle at all – it’s to reuse, repair and fix. Aim to change only the broken component, not dispose of the whole, and to share items with others who also need them, aiming for a truly circular economy

A handful of eWaste figures

These are the most up-to-date figures we can find at the time this micro-site launched. They’ll have grown, even since you began reading this page! Click here for some current eWaste statistics & figures


Tonnes of eWaste thrown out globally so far in 2020


Average daily wage for an eWaste recycling worker in 2020

Metals in phones

In the US alone, $60m worth of gold & silver is thrown away in mobile phones annually


300 million computers are made each year. It is expected to grow by 8% annually

Toxic chemicals

eWaste contains 100's of substances, many of which are toxic, including mercury, lead & arsenic

Annual eWaste

We generate around 40 million tons of electronic waste every year, worldwide