Latin America has a poor management of its electronic wastes

in ecoTrainlast year
Hello dear friends.

According to a new analysis prepared by the UN, in the framework of a project that addresses industrial development, Latin America and the Caribbean does not have an efficient management of electronic waste, it is even far from having at least a modest management of waste from this sector, since according to their figures, only about 3% of e-waste is collected in this region.

Latin America has a very poor management of e-waste according to the UN. Source:

Not only is it surprising that such a low percentage of waste is collected through formal channels and treated in a manner appropriate to its nature and with minimal impact on the environment, but of the remaining 97% of this waste there is also no evidence of its management, adding that its recovery involves a large sum of money.

In this UN report that collects data between 2010 and 2019 on the management of electronic waste from 13 Latin American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela; and concludes that the management of this waste is far from reaching optimal levels, even far from the global annual average calculated at 17.4%, highlighting that some informal recyclers focus on recovering certain components in specific electronic devices, disposing of the remaining without proper management.

Informal recyclers take advantage of some components but the rest of the waste is handled inadequately. Source:

And it is not surprising that every year there is an increase in the amount of electronic waste, since the truth is that we have become accustomed to using and discarding equipment when it breaks down or simply becomes obsolete, something that at the current pace of innovations in the technology sector, leads to obsolescence very quickly to many electronic equipment. According to the analysis, in the period studied the amount of waste increased by 49%, with countries such as Costa Rica standing out in the list of countries that generate the most waste per inhabitant, about 13 kg, quite a lot compared to Nicaragua, whose waste generation was 2.5 kg per person.

This amount of waste per person is a large amount, and according to this analysis, in 2019 the waste generated by the selected sample of 13 countries amounted to 1.3 megatonnes, with plastic being the main component of this waste, but where there are also hazardous substances such as mercury, cadmium, lead and brominated compounds, used as flame retardants in this type of article. Therefore, poor management of this waste generates potential hazards for the environment.

According to the analysis, the amount of waste generated in these regions is equivalent to 7000 kilos of gold, 310 kilos of rare metals, more than 590 million kilos of iron and 50 million kilos of copper, among others, which represents about 1700 million dollars of secondary raw materials.

Circuit boards contain both valuable and hazardous elements. Source:

Obviously, the analysis highlights the lack of a legal framework that obliges and provides mechanisms for the recovery of these materials or their proper disposal, as is customary in Latin American countries, the legal framework is insufficient and there is no will on the part of the authorities to make the necessary adjustments.

That is why in this report the UN calls on all countries in the region to introduce a legal framework focused on the environmental management of this type of waste and the pollutants they contain, and urges them to implement and monitor them to make them more efficient.

Undoubtedly this is a global problem, but it is increasing in Latin America due to the lack of legislation to address the problem and the facts show it, and the news does not surprise me because in my country (Venezuela) there are no collection and recycling centers for this type of waste, practically an electronic equipment that has completed its useful life must stay filling with dust at home or end up among household waste, which also have no method of efficient sorting and recycling.

This is something that should concern us all, since the pace at which technology evolves has made unstoppable the speed at which current equipment is improved, making us change them very often, sometimes out of necessity but often on a whim, discarding annually millions of tons of electrical and electronic equipment containing not only hazardous components that pose a risk to the environment and people, but also valuable ones that represent an opportunity to generate income.

Thanks for coming by to read friends, I hope you liked the information. See you next time.


The amount wastes is many much more which if utilized in a correct way can safe many dollars which leads to the success of that country.

That's right my friend, there are many valuable items among the electronic components that would bring in a good income if handled properly.

 last year Reveal Comment

Hi @salvictoria22. Yes, the rate at which we are generating electronic waste is no fun and few take into account the dangers of this type of waste, which could also bring great benefits if recycled properly. Thanks for your comment, my best regards!

 last year Reveal Comment