In 2019, approximately 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste was generated. In a publication compiled by UNITAR, it was estimated that by 2030 this number will have increased to 74 million metric tons per year. Thus, the global quantity of e-waste is increasing at an alarming rate of almost 2 million metric tons per year.
In 2019, there was 9.3 million metric tons of formally documented electronic waste collected and recycled, this was only 17.4% of the e-waste recorded to have been generated. This illustrates that recycling activities are not keeping pace with the global growth of e-waste.
Statistics on e-waste collected and recycled are based on data reported by countries. The most recent information available on the e-waste documented as formally collected and recycled worldwide refers on average to the year 2016.
In 2019, the majority of e-waste generated (82.6%) was most likely not formally collected and not managed in an environmentally sound manner. Those flows are usually not documented in a consistent or systematic manner. The lack of data on formally collected and recycled e-waste implies that most of the e-waste generated in 2019 (44.3 Mt) is managed outside the official collection system and, in some cases, is shipped to developing countries. In households of higher-income countries, small-size electronics can end up in normal waste bins and be disposed of with municipal solid waste. Therefore, it is not subjected to proper recycling, resulting in a loss of materials.