Friday July 19, 2019
Home World Toxic mine: G...

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

0
//

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.

Next Story

Small UK Village Celebrates Centenary of Its Part in Aviation History

On its outward journey in 1919, the 193-meter-long R34 airship flew from Scotland to New York

0
UK, Village, Aviation History
Pulham in Norfolk became the return point in the first ever return flight across the Atlantic Ocean by an airship. Pixabay

A village in the UK with a population of less than 1,000 was marking on Saturday the centenary of its part in aviation history.

Pulham in Norfolk became the return point in the first ever return flight across the Atlantic Ocean by an airship, the Xinhua news agency reported.

On its outward journey in 1919, the 193-meter-long R34 airship flew from Scotland to New York, but on the return leg it unexpectedly redirected to Pulham where its arrival was greeted by thousands of people. It became the first airship that made the East-West crossing of the Atlantic by air.

Sheila Moss King, who has organised the centenary event, said the arrival of the airship on July 13, 1919 had earned Pulham its place in aviation history.

UK, Village, Aviation History
A village in the UK with a population of less than 1,000 was marking on Saturday the centenary of its part in aviation history. Pixabay

The crew’s 75-hour return flight to Britain was a little less eventful than the 108-hour outbound journey from East Lothian in Scotland to Long Island, she said.

“They weren’t sure if they were on the right course and they flew through the most terrible storms with the airship tipping up and down,” Moss King noted.

A band struck up the song “See the Conquering Hero Comes” as the crowd gave the crew a heroes welcome in Norfolk and got an absolute drenching when the water used as ballast was released.

“It was in the news, it was on the radio – people all around the world would have heard of Pulham,” she said, adding it took 500 people to land the airship.

Also Read- First-Ever Conclave of Himalayan States to Focus on Environmental Protection

Records show that in New York the crew was showered with gifts and were greeted by US President Woodrow Wilson.

There was even an offer of $1,000 for the airship’s cat, named Wopsie, but it was turned down, and the cat returned to England.

Descendants of the airship crew and airfield workers gathered in the village on Saturday at the start of a two-day centenary celebration. In the nearby town of Diss, an R34 memorabilia exhibition has opened.

The outline of the airship has also been marked close to where it landed a century ago. (IANS)