Negative externalities: The growing mountain of… | tutor2u Economics
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Negative externalities: The growing mountain of electronic waste

A new report from the United Nations highlights the enormous environmental impact of the fast-growing mountain of discarded electronic waste - a negative externality from consumption.

According to their latest Global E-waste Monitor, humanity generated 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste in 2016, which is equivalent to 6.1 kilograms per person.  In Britain, we throw away an average of 25kg of equipment each year with a recycling rate of less than fifty percent. The UK Government wants to reach a recycling target of 65% within the next two years.

The world's annual stockpile of electronic waste is about the same weight as 4,500 Eiffel Towers.

Globally, electronic waste contains $55bn of recoverable materials – yet only 1/5 is currently recycled.

Which policies might be most effective in controlling and reducing electronic waste? End of Life regulations for disposing of waste electronic products are already in place but perhaps a wider range of behavioural nudges are needed to remind people of the consequences of their actions. 2017 seemed to be the year when public tolerance for plastic pollution reached a tipping point - might 2018 be a similar year for our attitudes to electronic waste? 

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