Philippines faces escalating e-waste crisis

The country is deemed a leading e-waste producer in Southeast Asia, mainly from consumer electronics like TVs, refrigerators, and mobile phones.

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The Philippines grapples with a mounting e-waste crisis as figures soar to 537 million kilograms in 2022, raising concerns over environmental and health hazards. The last UN’s Global e-Waste Monitor identifies the country as one of the leading e-waste producer in Southeast Asia.

E-waste, or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), encompasses all end-of-life electronic devices with plugs or batteries. It poses a hazardous threat due to toxic materials like mercury and lead, which are classified as such by the Basel Convention. In the Philippines, consumer electronics like TVs, refrigerators, and mobile phones constitute the bulk of e-waste, driven by technological advancements and short product lifecycles, exacerbating disposal challenges.

With recycling rates lagging far behind production, urgent action is imperative to address the lack of infrastructure and enforce Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws, warns environmental advocate Jam Lorenzo of BAN Toxics.

Why does it matter?

The e-waste crisis in the Philippines persists as a longstanding issue. A 2016 study by engineers at the University of the Philippines Department of Environmental Engineering revealed that around 22 million mobile phones were discarded, with 95 percent of respondents lacking knowledge of proper e-waste disposal methods. Urgent action from policymakers and industry stakeholders is needed to address this issue and prevent further environmental and public health harm.