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Toxic mine: Gold worth £7 billion up for grabs, but its buried under 42 million tons of e-waste

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eWaste

By NewsGram Staff Writer

A report by the United Nations University (UNU) has revealed that the amount of “e-waste” generated globally is increasing by two million tons a year and will reach 50 megatons by 2018 – with Britons among the planet’s biggest generators of hi-tech junk.

The study warns that less than 16 per cent of global e-waste is being diverted from landfill into recycling and reuse – representing the loss of an “urban mine” of potentially recyclable materials worth more than £34 billion.

Gold worth more than £7 billion is being thrown away amid the 42 million tons of electronic and electrical equipment discarded by consumers, according to United Nations experts.

Among the resources being lost annually, as millions of items from mobile phones to fridges are inadequately disposed of, are 300 tons of gold (equivalent to more than a 10th of global production in 2013) as well as 1,000 tons of silver worth £400 million and 16 megatons of steel with a value of £6.5 billion.

The UNU research found that rather than being dominated by discarded electronics such as mobile phones or computers, the majority (nearly 60 per cent) of e-waste consisted of large and small domestic appliances or office equipment.

UN under-secretary and rector of the Tokyo-based UNU, David Malone said: “Worldwide, e-waste constitutes a valuable ‘urban mine’ – a large potential reservoir of recyclable materials. At the same time, the hazardous content of e-waste constitutes a ‘toxic mine’ that must be managed with extreme care. There is a large portion of e-waste that is not being collected and treated in an environmentally sound manner.”

The report also identified Britain among the world’s most profligate producers of e-waste, ranking fifth in the weight of material discarded per inhabitant, with each Briton generating 23.5 kg each year.

The UK was also sixth worldwide in the total amount of e-waste the country generated, with some 1.5 megatons – barely 100,000 tons less than India which has 20 times the population.

The UNU report said that only one-third of e-waste in the UK is recycled through recognised schemes – a figure that must reach 85 per cent under EU rules by 2019.

Federico Magalini, a UNU researcher said, “In the UK we are seeing that the ‘lifespan’ of an electric or electronic product may be particularly short.

“We should not simply try to stop consumption to minimise the amount of waste being generated, but should instead make sure that it is properly collected and recycled. There is an opportunity to create jobs and extract those resources currently being discarded”, he added.

The fast-growing mountain of waste also contains alarming quantities of toxins, including 4,400 tons of ozone-depleting chemicals and 2.2 megatons of lead glass weighing more than the equivalent of the Empire State Building.

Heavy metals and other chemicals commonly found in electronics such as mercury, cadmium and beryllium can leach into the ground and water supplies, causing kidney and liver damage and impaired mental development.

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Copyright 2015 NewsGram

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Hero Cycles to Grow 60% by 2022 and UK Will Help It

Sreeram said the UK operations would not only go a long way to help the company grow at a robust pace but would also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

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Sreeram said it was natural for Hero Cycles to
Hero Cycle to grow by expanding in uk, wikimedia commons

As India’s iconic Hero Cycles makes inroads into the UK and European markets with the launch of 75 bikes under its new “Insync” brand, the worlds biggest bicycle manufacturer aims to grow by over 60 per cent over the next four years, says Sreeram Venkateswaran, head of the companys UK operations.

He said that from a $800-850 million company (across all its businesses, including automotive), it is poised to become $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion company by 2022, with Europe and bicycles being an “extremely important component” of that growth story.

Sreeram told IANS in an interview that with the launch of the Insync brand, the company not only aims to penetrate the mid-premium segment of the European market but also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

In 2015, Hero Cycles had acquired the UK’s Avocet Sports to expand its footprint into Europe and Sreeram was appointed Avocet CEO. Last year, the company opened a global design centre in Manchester to design bicycles of global standards. The 75 new cycles are the first of the lot designed at the $2.7 million Hero Cycles Global Design Centre.

Sreeram said it was natural for Hero Cycles to “get out of the well called India” if it had to transform itself into a strong global player from “value perspective” from being one of the largest manufacturers from a “volume perspective”.

The 75 new cycles are the first of the lot designed at the $2.7 million Hero Cycles Global Design Centre.
Cycling, Representational image- Pexels

“Just from the figures perspective, India does about 17 million bicycles a year and the total value is $1 billion. UK does about 2.75 million bicycles a year and the business is worth about $2 billion to $2.1 billion. Europe does about 21 million bicycles and the business is about $12 billion,” he said.

At the same time, the company’s Europe and UK plans are in sync with its growth plans in India, Sreeram said.

With India’s medium- to high-end cycling segment growing at about 25-27 per cent over the last one-and-a-half years, Hero Cycles plans to optimise the Insync brand models for the Indian market and then take them back home.

“Also, having the ownership of Firefox in India, which is clearly the market leader in the mid to high-end bikes, we are well poised to garner a disproportionate share of the growth as the market starts to grow,” he said.

Sreeram said the UK operations would not only go a long way to help the company grow at a robust pace but would also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

“UK happens to be in a very nice cusp of market development. It’s about three to four years behind mainland Europe and it’s about three to four or five ahead of the Indian development cycle.

As Indias iconic Hero Cycles makes inroads into the UK and European markets with the launch of 75 bikes under its new "Insync" brand
Hero Cycles to expand in UK, pexels

“What it does from a business perspective is that while usually a bike range has shelf life of one year, a facility in Manchester gives me an opportunity to extend that shelf life to three to four years,” Sreeram said.

“So any investment I make into design and development of bicycles here in this facility has actually four times the value that can be extracted compared to any other company which is solely based out of Europe or the UK and selling only in this market. That’s a huge advantage,” Sreeram said.

Also Read: Indian Art Forms in International Festivals Through Sands of Culture Series

The facility in the UK and designing bikes for the European market make it necessary for the company to also keep updating the design and manufacturing team back home in India to bring it at par with what is required by a European customer, he added.

“So they start looking at quality from not what a guy in Latur would want but as what a guy in Luxemburg will want. That’s the difference we have to create even from a quality perspective.

“These are the kinds of things that are slowly getting imbibed in the entire manufacturing chain which makes us a much more robust and stronger company,” he added. (IANS)