Published OnJuly 9, 2021
Home offices, homeschooling, online hang-outs with friends, online shopping, movie streaming, gaming nights, etc. – today’s living under COVID-19 lockdowns seems impossible without the latest gadgets. Therefore, many experts foresee a sizable increase in the consumption of electrical and electronic equipment and a simultaneous increase in disposal, partly as a result of the house-cleaning in the first lockdowns in 2020. However, the statistics from a recently released UN University study show that lower consumption of electronic and electrical equipment in the first three quarters of 2020 led to a reduction of 4.9 million metric tons in e-waste generated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the first and second quarter of 2020. The reductions were 30% in low and middle-income countries and only 5% in high-income countries. This inequality has a large social side effect: whereas the population in low and middle-income countries is continuously growing, the gap of having access to modern communication technologies and other electronics, the so-called "digital divide" is increasing. The ability to adapt to digitization and earn a living or simply to own and benefit from electronics is decreasing in some parts of the world. The reduction, most likely temporary, leads to less e-waste in regions where mismanagement of e-waste leads to large environmental and health damage.
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