From electronic consumer products to e-wastes: Global outlook, waste quantities, recycling challenges

Environ Int. 2017 Jan;98:35-45. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.10.002. Epub 2016 Oct 8.


Advancements in technology, materials development, and manufacturing processes have changed the consumer products and composition of municipal solid waste (MSW) since 1960s. Increasing quantities of discarded consumer products remain a major challenge for recycling efforts, especially for discarded electronic products (also referred as e-waste). The growing demand for high tech products has increased the e-waste quantities and its cross boundary transport globally. This paper reviews the challenges associated with increasing e-waste quantities. The increasing need for raw materials (especially for rare earth and minor elements) and unregulated e-waste recycling operations in developing and underdeveloped counties contribute to the growing concerns for e-waste management. Although the markets for recycled materials are increasing; there are major challenges for development of the necessary infrastructure for e-waste management and accountability as well as development of effective materials recovery technologies and product design.

Keywords: Cross boundary e-waste transport; Materials recovery; Rare earth elements; Recycling; Sustainability; e-Waste.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electronic Waste*
  • Electronics
  • Recycling*
  • Waste Management*