全球電子垃圾堆 比萬里長城還要重 專家呼籲妥善回收3C產品 | 環境資訊中心

全球電子垃圾堆 比萬里長城還要重 專家呼籲妥善回收3C產品

2021年10月20日
環境資訊中心外電;姜唯 翻譯;林大利 審校;稿源:ENS

10月14日是國際電子廢棄物日,專家呼籲家庭、企業和政府讓更多報廢或未使用的電子設備進入維修或回收設施,以回收貴重金屬、減少開採新資源的需求。

今年的電子電機廢棄物(waste electronic and electrical equipment, WEEE)堆積如山,預計總重量約為5740萬噸,比地球上最重的建築物——中國萬里長城的重量還重。

圖片來源:inkelv1122(CC BY-NC 2.0)
2021年電子電機廢棄物(WEEE)預計總重量約為5740萬噸,比地球上最重的建築物——中國長城的重量還重。圖片來源:inkelv1122(CC BY-NC 2.0)

隱藏的寶山

聯合國訓練研究所(United Nations Institute for Training and Research, UNITAR)永續循環專案(SCYCLE)主任兼辦公室主任奎爾(Ruediger Kuehr)表示,電子電機零件是一種「城市礦山」,有巨大的價值。

SCYCLE執行和分享全面性、實用性的研究,幫助社會減少生產、使用和處置電子電機廢棄物而造成的環境破壞。

「1噸廢棄手機所含的黃金,比1噸金礦石還多。」奎爾博士斷言。「舉例來說,100萬支手機中含有24公斤的黃金、1.6萬公斤銅、350公斤銀和14公斤鈀,這些資源可以回收並回到生產週期中。如果不回收,就需要不斷開採新料,進而危害環境。」

聯合國大學SCYCLE專案高級官員巴爾德(Kees Baldé)說:「與開採原始金屬相比,從廢棄物中回收黃金和其他材料,可以節省大量二氧化碳排放。」他認為,2019年保守估計燒掉或倒掉價值570億美元的可回收材料,這價值超過許多國家的國內生產總值。

根據WEEE論壇,成功提高回收率需要每個人的參與,包括消費者。「問題意識是人們對電子垃圾採取行動的主要動力之一。」負責國際電子垃圾日的WEEE論壇成員查理塔諾維奇(Magdalena Charytanowicz) 說。

「因此在10月14日,我們希望藉由鼓勵電子垃圾收集、學校講座和社交媒體宣傳等活動,盡可能觸及全球公民、喚起意識,並呼籲妥善處理報廢電子產品。」

「消費者願意做正確的事情,但需要充分了解情況,他們應享有更便利的基礎設施,讓正確處理電子垃圾成為社會規範。」

舉辦國際電子垃圾日的WEEE論壇總幹事萊羅伊(Pascal Leroy)說:「許多因素影響著電子電機業資源的效能和循環,但有一點特別重要:只要市民不回收、出售或捐贈用過的、損壞的產品,我們就需要繼續開採新材料,繼續對環境造成巨大破壞。」

總部位於布魯塞爾的WEEE論壇是全世界類似組織中最大、具有相當影響力的非營利性國際協會,代表全球45個生產者責任組織。它的目標是整合收集、物流、去污染、加工、準備再利用和報告電子廢棄物的技術、業務和營運方面的知識,將擴大生產者責任原則,轉變為有效的電子廢棄物管理政策方法。

2020年,WEEE論壇成員組織報告有280萬噸電子廢棄物經收集和適當去污染和回收,這是個繁重的工作,但只處理了一小部分的電子電機廢棄物。

電子廢棄物山逐年成長

去年的全球電子廢棄物監測報告稱,2019年產生5360萬噸電子電機廢棄物,自2014年以來,五年內成長了21%。專家警告,今年全球產生的電子電機廢棄物量將達到近6000萬噸。

WEEE論壇預測,2030年電子廢棄物的數量可能會達到7400萬噸。圖為示意圖。圖片來源:fauxels/Pexels

全球電子廢棄物每年增加200萬噸,即約3%至4%,這個問題歸咎於電子產品的消費率增加,每年增加3%,且產品生命週期變短,維修選項也有限。

WEEE論壇預測,2030年電子垃圾的數量可能會達到7400萬噸。在歐洲的普通家庭中,平均72件電子產品中有11件不再被使用或已損壞,共囤積著5公斤未使用的電子電機產品。

WEEE愛爾蘭指出,愛爾蘭家庭平均有15~20件損壞和未使用的電子產品。電子垃圾收集和處理機構Recupel稱,平均每個比利時家庭擁有77台電子用品,其中10件不再使用。

另一項研究估計,法國家庭的抽屜和櫥櫃中共藏有5400萬~1億1300萬支手機,重達10~20噸。

在手機回收量較多的美國,環保局估計每年有超過1.51億支手機被焚燒或填埋,大約等於每天41萬6000支。美國垃圾掩埋場中40%的重金屬來自電子廢棄物。

若按重量計算,爐台和冰箱等大型廢電器是電子垃圾問題的最大宗,儘管各級政府幾十年來有在努力,但問題仍然持續。

例如,歐盟制定了全面的生產者責任延伸法律,包括目標和法律責任,但根據UNITAR和WEEE論壇的報告,成員國由於各種原因難以落實。

調查顯示,大眾普遍有種誤解,以為大約40~50%的電子垃圾被回收利用,事實上在2019年,只有17.4%的電子垃圾被正確處理和回收。

手機、平板電腦、電腦和其他小型資訊技術產品的回收因為資料安全、產品價值、回收點難以到達以及適當回收程序的不確定性等問題特別困難。

電子垃圾和網際網路:資訊鴻溝

根據最近的兩項研究,全世界對資料和數位服務不斷增長的需求,似乎正在改變電子垃圾的生態。

2020年歐盟執委會的資通訊技術影響研究發現,「隨選影片、電影、社群媒體影片和遊戲串流佔用了資料中心近85%的頻寬。」

同時,WEEE論壇和國際電信聯盟(International Telecommunication Union)2020年國際電子垃圾日發表的聯合報告強調,經濟循環是管理電子垃圾的關鍵:

一、自2010年以來,網路使用者已增加一倍,流量每年成長約30%,到2023年,全球網路使用者將達到53億,佔世界人口的66%。

二、行動網路使用者預計將從2019年的38億增加到2025年的50億,而物聯網連接設備在同一時間將從120億增加到250億,成長一倍以上。

加上雲端運算、5G、自駕車、區塊鏈、機器學習和其他人工智慧領域的初步應用,都需要愈來愈多的伺服器——數以百萬計位於資料中心的伺服器。

「智慧型手機仍是資料用量成長的中心,因為它們產生了絕大部分行動資訊流量,預計到2025年將達到95%。」

WEEE和ITU報告稱,產品製造商與消費者在電子垃圾的減少和回收方面,扮演同樣重要的角色。

「快速的手機開發導致市場習慣快速更換舊設備,卻提供快速但並不容易的電子垃圾處置方式。」

報告作者之一麥當勞(Rosie McDonald)表示,「行動裝置在其生命週期中以多種方式影響環境,但透過應用循環經濟原則,包括生產控制、設備重複使用、再製造和回收,以及改進循環設計,包括組件材料選擇、標準化和模組化,以便於拆卸。」

World’s E-Waste Heavier than China’s Great Wall
BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 14, 2021 (ENS)

Today, on International E-Waste Day 2021, waste management experts are asking households, businesses, and governments to take more dead or unused electronic devices to facilities where they can be repaired or recycled to recover precious metals and reduce the need to mine new resources.

This year’s mountain of waste electronic and electrical equipment, or WEEE, is expected to total about 57.4 million tonnes, a weight greater than that of the Great Wall of China, Earth’s heaviest built object.

Mountains of Hidden Riches

The value of EEE components in the world’s “urban mines” is enormous, says Ruediger Kuehr, director of the Sustainable Cycles, SCYCLE, Programme and Head of the Office of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, UNITAR,  in Bonn, Germany.

SCYCLE conducts and shares comprehensive, practical research to help societies reduce environmental damage caused by the production, use, and disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment.

“A tonne of discarded mobile phones is richer in gold than a tonne of gold ore,” Dr. Kuehr asserts.

“Embedded in one million cell phones, for example, are 24 kg of gold, 16,000 kg of copper, 350 kg of silver, and 14 kg of palladium – resources that could be recovered and returned to the production cycle,” he says. “And if we fail to recycle these materials, new supplies need to be mined, harming the environment.”

Kees Baldé, senior program officer of the United Nations University’s SCYCLE Programme, said, “The recovery of gold and other material from waste saves a lot of carbon dioxide emissions when compared with virgin metal mining.” 

High-value, recoverable materials conservatively valued at US$57 billion – more than the Gross Domestic Product of many countries – were mostly dumped or burned in 2019 rather than being collected for treatment and reuse, Baldé said.

Successfully raising collection rates requires everyone to be involved, including consumers, the WEEE Forum explains.

“Awareness is one of the key motivators for people to take action on e-waste,” says Magdalena Charytanowicz of the WEEE Forum in charge of International E-Waste Day.

“This is why on 14 October we hope to reach as many citizens worldwide as possible and urge the proper disposal of end-of-life electronics by encouraging campaigns and awareness activities such as e-waste collections, school lectures, and social media outreach,” Charytanowicz said. 

“Consumers want to do the right thing but need to be adequately informed,” she says, “and a convenient infrastructure should be easily available to them so that disposing of e-waste correctly becomes the social norm in communities.”

Pascal Leroy, director general of the WEEE Forum, www.weee-forum.org the organization behind International E-Waste Day, said, “Many factors play a role in making the electrical and electronics sector resource efficient and circular,” Leroy said. “But one thing stands out: as long as citizens don’t return their used, broken gear, sell it, or donate it, we will need to continue mining all-new materials, causing great environmental damage.”

The biggest organization of its kind in the world, the WEEE Forum is a Brussels-based for-impact, not-for-profit international association representing 45 producer responsibility organizations across the globe.

The goal is to turn the extended producer responsibility principle into an effective electronic waste management policy approach through combined knowledge of the technical, business and operational aspects of collection, logistics, de-pollution, processing, preparing for reuse and reporting of e-waste.

In 2020, WEEE Forum member organizations reported collection and proper de-pollution and recycling of 2.8 million tonnes of WEEE, a huge effort that dealt with but a small fraction of the waste electronic and electrical equipment.

E-Waste Mountains Grow Year By Year

Last year’s Global E-waste Monitor reported that 53.6 million metric tonnes of WEEE were generated in 2019 – a 21 percent jump in the five years since 2014.

Experts have warned that the amount of electronic and electrical waste generated globally will reach almost 60 million metric tonnes this year.

Global e-waste generation is growing annually by two million tonnes, or about three to four percent, a problem blamed on higher consumption rates of electronics, increasing by three percent per year; shorter product lifecycles; and limited repair options.

The WEEE Forum predicts that e-waste could reach 74 million metric tonnes by 2030. The prediction does not surprise those who have heard this statistic – in average homes across Europe, one in six electronic items is broken or unused.

In Europe, investigations show that 11 of the 72 electronic items in an average household are no longer in use or are broken. Another five kg of unused electrical and electronic products are hoarded in a typical European home before being discarded, WEEE Forum explains.

WEEE Ireland points out that the average Irish household has between 15 and 20 broken and unused electrical items lying around.

WEEE Ireland CEO Leo Donovan told “The Independent” newspaper, “When you add it up, 5kg equates to a kettle, a laptop that won’t power up, a smartphone beyond repair, an unplayable small gaming device and that kitchen blender in the back of the cupboard that hasn’t worked for years.”

A Belgian family has an average of 77 appliances, of which 10 are no longer being used, according to the e-waste collection and processing agency Recupel.

Another study estimates that 54 to 113 million mobile phones alone, weighing 10 to 20 tonnes, are tucked away in drawers, cabinets and cupboards in French homes.

Meanwhile, in the United States, where many mobile phones are recycled, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 151 million phones a year – roughly 416,000 a day – are trashed and end up incinerated or landfilled. An estimated 40 percent of heavy metals in U.S. landfills come from discarded electronics.

By weight discarded big appliances such as stoves and refrigerators constitute the largest component of the e-waste problem, which continues despite decades of efforts by governments at many levels.

The EU, for example, has comprehensive Extended Producer Responsibility legislation in place, consisting of targets and legal responsibilities, but member states struggle to achieve them for several reasons, as documented by UNITAR and the Brussels-based WEEE Forum in a report, WEEE Flows study and vision.

Surveys show a widely-held public misconception that about 40-50 percent of all e-waste is recycled, yet only 17.4 percent of e-waste was known to be properly treated and recycled in 2019.

Recycling of cell phones, tablets, computers and other small information technology products is hampered by fears about data security, product value, difficult-to-reach return points, and uncertainty about appropriate recycling procedures.

E-waste and the Internet: An Information Gap

The rising world demand for data and digital services appears to be changing the e-waste landscape according to two recent studies.

A 2020 European impact study on Information and Communication Technology https://bit.ly/3A9gzyCordered by the European Commission found that “video on demand, movies, social media clips and game streaming take up close to 85 percent of the bandwidth of the data centres.”

Meanwhile, a joint “thought paper” published by the WEEE Forum and the International Telecommunication Union (at https://bit.ly/3o5pRcz) on International E-waste Day 2020 underlines that economic circularity is esstial for managing e-waste.

Titled “Internet Waste,” the paper features statistics showing the explosive growth of demand:

• Internet users have doubled since 2010, traffic has grown roughly 30 percent annually, and by 2023 users worldwide will number 5.3 billion – 66 percent of the world’s population.

• Mobile Internet users are projected to increase from 3.8 billion in 2019 to five billion by 2025, while IoT-connected devices will more than double from 12 billion to 25 billion in that same time period.

All this and the dawning uses of cloud computing, 5G, self-driving cars, blockchain, machine learning and other areas of artificial intelligence require an ever-growing number of servers – millions of them in data centers.

“Smartphones continue to be at the centre of data use growth, as they generate most of the mobile data traffic – 95 percent projected in 2025. ”

WEEE and the ITU report that product manufacturers have a major role to play in e-waste reduction and recyling alongside that of consumers.

“Fast mobile phone development has led to a market dependency on rapid replacement of older devices,” the thought paper states, then gives a quick, but not easy, program for handling the mountains of e-waste.

“Internet Waste” author Rosie McDonald of the ITU states, “Mobile devices affect the environment in many ways over their lifetimes, but the impact can be reduced and spread over a longer period by applying circular economy principles, including production control, device reuse, remanufacture and recycling, and improved circular design involving component material selection, standardization and modularization for easier disassembly.”

※ 全文及圖片詳見:ENS

作者

姜唯

如果有一件事是重要的,如果能為孩子實現一個願望,那就是人類與大自然和諧共存。

林大利

於特有生物研究保育中心服務,小鳥和棲地是主要的研究對象。是龜毛的讀者,認為龜毛是探索世界的美德。