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Review Article | Open Access

A global perspective on e-waste recycling

Kang Liua,bQuanyin TanaJiadong YuaMengmeng Wanga,b( )
State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
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Electronic waste (e-waste) is one of the relatively fast-growing solid waste streams, with an annual growth rate of 3%-5%. Although international policies have been formulated to better limit the global transboundary movement of hazardous waste, the existence of illegal trade and “informal” recycling has exacerbated the global recycling of e-waste. At present, residents in many low-income areas are still illegally and unscientifically disposing of e-waste to profit from it. The toxic and harmful substances produced affect the global ecological environment through the geochemical cycle. In this review, we provide a systematic overview of the status quo of e-waste recycling globally. E-waste is placed into a framework, grouped by product type, quantity, composition, environmental health risk, and global impact. Management measures, legislative policies, current disposal, and transboundary movement are summarized at international, regional, and national levels, illustrating the status and challenges of e-waste collection and disposal. Techniques such as physical dismantling, component recycling, metal extraction, and re-utilization of non-metallic materials are described, which can have long-term impact on the ecosystem. We advocate that the global sustainable recycling of e-waste be supported by regional cooperation, legislative management, technology development, and eco-friendly design. This study provides a global solution for the recycling of e-waste.



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Circular Economy
Article number: 100028
Cite this article:
Liu K, Tan Q, Yu J, et al. A global perspective on e-waste recycling. Circular Economy, 2023, 2(1): 100028.








Received: 16 December 2022
Revised: 06 February 2023
Accepted: 13 February 2023
Published: 24 February 2023
© 2023 The Author(s).

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