New research from the United Nations suggests that toys are a much larger contributor to electronic waste than vaping products, according to New Scientist.
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum recently collaborated with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research to quantify how much electronic waste the world disposes of without realizing it has the potential to be recycled.
According to the analysis, 9 billion kg of so-called “invisible” e-waste, worth nearly $10 billion, is thrown away yearly. Around one-third of this waste comes from children’s toys containing some 3.2 billion kg of hidden electronics.
Toys contribute 77 times more to the world’s invisible e-waste than vapes, which account for 42 million kg annually. The U.N. estimates that 844 million vapes are thrown away every year.
“Electronic waste is our fastest-growing waste stream,” says Oliver Franklin-Wallis, the author of Wasteland, a book on waste disposal. “It’s also by far our most valuable waste stream when it comes to household waste.”
However, very few people realize that many common items they dispose of contain e-waste. Magdalena Charytanowicz, at the WEEE Forum, highlighted that this was the purpose of the research.
“We’re trying to make people understand that the items they may not suspect are electronics actually do contain a lot of precious materials, like copper and lithium,” Charytanowicz said.