Global e-Waste Statistics 2024

State of e-Waste 2024: Key Insights From the Global Monitor


In March 2024, Malaysian police raided a secret e-waste destruction facility hidden deep in a tropical palm plantation. The enormous illegal factory had been in operation since 2019. Here, 50 people harvested scrap metal from WEEE, most of which had been trafficked from the USA.


Following a string of similar raids, the Basel Action Network (BAN) issued an official e-waste trafficking alert for Southeast Asia. BAN is a watchdog for the illicit hazardous waste trade, and its alert echoes the findings of this year’s Global e-Waste Monitor.


The Monitor is a comprehensive report that provides a snapshot of the global e-waste problem. This year, it reveals some shocking statistics that underpin the need for stricter e-waste laws worldwide.


We Produce Five Times More e-Waste Than We Recycle


In 2022, the world generated 62 billion kg of e-waste. That’s almost double what we produced in 2010. These numbers indicate exponential growth in our e-waste generation habits, which far outpace our e-waste recycling rates.


The e-waste recycling industry is not growing fast enough. We increase our recycling efforts by about 0.5 billion kg a year, but that’s five times slower than we generate e-waste. Rapid technological advancement has led to shorter product life cycles that motivate more frequent replacements. Couple that with limited repair options and falling tech prices, and replacing stuff instead of repairing it becomes second nature.


The Global Monitor also found that the biggest contributor to e-waste is small equipment. That includes microwaves, hairdryers, toasters, speakers, cameras, etc. Most of these devices are affordable and easy to replace. Increasing recycling in this waste category alone could help us reduce up to one-third of all e-waste.


Most e-Waste Recycling Goes Undocumented


There is a silver lining to these gloomy recycling statistics. The Global e-Waste Monitor can only report on formally documented e-waste recycling and does not account for informal collectors, reclaimers, and pickers. The official global e-waste recycling rate is 22%. In reality, that number is probably much higher.


However, backyard recycling is not always done safely, and we should integrate as many self-taught reclaimers into the formal waste sector as possible. Doing so not only protects the environment and human health. It can also help us increase raw material recovery rates.


Illegal e-Waste Trafficking Remains a Concern


e-Waste trafficking is when criminals ship e-waste to another country illegally, sometimes by disguising it as second-hand equipment. The e-waste typically flows from developed countries to low- or middle-income nations that don’t have the right infrastructure to recycle it.


Currently, over 5 billion kg of e-waste moves between countries every year, 65% of which happens illegally. This contravenes the Basel Convention – a global treaty that restricts transboundary movements of hazardous waste (South Africa has ratified the Basel Convention). There is a legal way to export e-waste for recycling, however, the additional administrative effort deters many businesses from pursuing it.


The Prior Informed Consent procedure involves notifying the importing nation of an e-waste shipment and getting their approval before releasing it. However, concerns have been raised about how this process may slow down international trade.


Another barrier to preventing e-waste trafficking is a lack of training and awareness among port officials. Offenders often ship e-waste and used electronics together, making it almost impossible to differentiate between them upon inspection. Developing international inspection standards and stricter goods classification rules could improve e-waste detection rates.


Two New Classes of e-Waste to Watch


Solar Panels

The world is accepting solar power with open arms, especially since the onset of the global energy crisis in 2021. The rapid adoption of solar power has catapulted the production of photovoltaic (PV) panels. While these panels have a relatively long lifespan (approximately 22 years) they will eventually become e-waste.


End-of-life solar panels generated 600 million tonnes of e-waste in 2022, and that number is expected to quadruple by 2030. The best way to mitigate the inevitable wave of solar waste is to set up robust recycling systems now. For smaller solar installations with shorter lifespans, repair and refurbishment should be a priority.



In many parts of the world, vaping has become more popular than smoking cigarettes[1],[2],[3] among the youth. Some vapes are rechargeable and refillable, while others have usage limitations and are designed to be thrown away. All vapes are classified as e-waste because they contain batteries, circuit boards, and heating elements.


Sending vapes and e-cigarettes to landfills is an environmental hazard and should be avoided at all costs. As one of the fastest-growing e-waste streams, we must prioritize their end-of-life management. Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a promising strategy for facilitating the collection of used vaping products.


The Economic Incentive to Invest in e-Waste Management


The findings presented in the Global e-Waste Monitor highlight significant opportunities for the public and private sectors. The increasing rate of e-waste generation promises a steady flow of business for recycling and refurbishment companies that far outweighs hazardous waste treatment costs.


In 2022, the e-waste we generated globally contained $91 billion worth of metals. Only 30% of this money was recovered through recycling. Ramping up e-waste collection rates through EPR systems that integrate informal reclaimers and support separation-at-the-source may be the secret to boosting that number.


For more information about EPR and how to implement it in your business, please contact us.



  1. Basel Action Network. 2024. BAN Warns of an Increase in Illegal E-waste Exports from the US to Malaysia.–from-the-US-to-Malaysia.html?soid=1114999858498&aid=qfxg2NcDTCs 
  1. UNITAR, 2024. The Global E-Waste Monitor 2024.





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