30 March 2023, Beirut, Lebanon / Bonn, Germany– A shift to a circular economy in West Asia would place 33 per cent less electronic and electrical equipment on the market and reduce e-waste by 14 per cent, according to the ‘2050 Electrical and Electronic Waste Outlook for West Asia’. The report is published by the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Regional Office for West Asia and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) as the world marks the inaugural International Day of Zero Waste.

The generation of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) has increased drastically over the last decade worldwide, including in West Asia region, and is likely to more than double by 2050. E-waste contains hazardous components that can harm the environment and human health. According to the new Outlook, e-waste in West Asia is currently unmanaged or mismanaged. However, if effectively managed, it has the potential to become a source of economic growth, creating new jobs and investment opportunities.

A market flooded by e-waste is also flooded by chemicals that are toxic for human health and ecosystems,” said Sami Dimassi, the UNEP Representative and Regional Director for West Asia. “The Outlook provides a step-by-step approach for countries to manage e-waste in an environmentally sound manner. Both producers and consumers have a role in the sustainable management of e-waste.

Too much e-waste in the region is not appropriately treated. The Outlook shall raise awareness on solid evidences and illustrate the scenarios if business as usual is simply continued or amended to become more sustainable. This shows enormous potential for the environment and jobs as well” said Ruediger Kuehr, the Head of the UNITAR Bonn Office and Manager of Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) Programme.

The report contrasts two future scenarios for e-waste management in the region: “business as usual” versus a shift to a circular economy.

The business-as-usual scenario estimates that the amount of electrical and electronic equipment in the region – as well as e-waste generation – will more than double by 2050, increasing from 1.5 Mt (million metric tons) in 2020 to 3.3 - 3.9 Mt in 2050.

The potential benefits of the transition toward the circular economy scenario are vast, both for resource recovery and emission reductions of hazardous substances. Assuming the e-waste collection rate gradually reaches 100% by 2050 under this scenario, between 39 and 43 Mt of e-waste is projected to be managed, in sustainable manner, in West Asia between 2020 to 2050.

A sound management of e-waste entails enhancing collection systems, increasing reuse and recycling facilities for e-waste, producing electrical and electronic equipment that have longer lifespans.

The report also recommends how to transition from a linear economy toward a circular one, as well as on e-waste management and e-waste utilization as a source for economic, social, and environmental benefits. These include legislation and strengthening awareness, monitoring, and compliance mechanisms on the environmentally sound management of e-waste.

Notes to Editors

About the United Nations Institute for Training and Research 

UNITAR supports governments to implement the 2020 Agenda for sustainable development. To solve complex global challenges, it transforms mindsets by offering research, learning, analytical and capacity-centred solutions for a more sustainable world.

About the UN Environment Programme

The UN Environment Programme is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

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