A new study released by the American Chemical Society is forecasting that obsolete personal computers could reach 700 million in developing regions by 2030, and the amount of e-waste generated in these countries will exceed developed regions by 2016.
There is no general standard for developed versus developing countries, but the idea is typically tied into income groups.
The report points out that oftentimes when developed countries export electronics for recycling, they end up being reused because technology demand is high in developing countries but so are the prices for new electronics.
In fact, “87 percent of imported end-of-life computers went to reuse as opposed to recycling in Peru.”
Several countries have looked to address the transport of electronics to developing nations through bans on either imports or exports of e-waste.
In the U.S., that bill is H.R. 2595, which was introduced in 2009 and would restrict the exporting of certain electronic waste to any countries that aren’t members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or the European Union.
The bill is still under evaluation in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Developing nations are predicted to produce more e-waste despite the fact that they own electronics for a longer period of time.
In North America, the average lifespan is 3.8 years according to the report, while it’s 5.35 years for Central and South America and 5.75 years for the Middle East and Africa.
But while ownership of obsolete computers in developed countries is starting to plateau at around 200 million, the number will take off toward 700 million in developing countries within the next five years.