The world is increasing the consumption of electronics exponentially. We constantly change smartphones; On average, each person launches a new mobile in less than two years. This dynamic has led to a record e-waste generation in 2016 of up to 45 million tons globally, according to a new report from the International Union of United Nations Telecommunications. But the most worrying thing is that only around 20% can be certified to be recycled.

The 45 million tons of waste have an economic value of about 47 billion euros – 8 billion euros is attributed to smartphones – but most of that economic value is lost, which would be solved with the deployment of an efficient recovery system based on the circular economy. Not everything is attributable to obsolescence, one million tons of electronic waste corresponds specifically to electric chargers, which are not usually discarded because they stop working. The International Telecommunications Union is working on new standards for chargers to increase their compatibility.

There are notable differences between the different regions of the planet. Africa generates only 5% of electronic waste, while Europe and Russia generate 28%, although they recycle 35%. The ones that pull this recycling rate the most are Switzerland, Sweden and Norway, where up to 70% is recycled. The United States generates 14% of e-waste and recycles less than 25%, and China – with a population four times the size of the US – generates 16%, with a recycling rate of 18%.