The waste stream of obsolete electronic equipment grows exponentially, creating a worldwide pollution and resource problem. Electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) comprises a heterogeneous mix of glass, plastics (including flame retardants and other additives), metals (including rare Earth elements), and metalloids. The e-waste issue is complex and multi-faceted. In examining the different aspects of e-waste, informal recycling in developing countries has been identified as a primary concern, due to widespread illegal shipments; weak environmental, as well as health and safety, regulations; lack of technology; and inadequate waste treatment structure. For example, Nigeria, Ghana, India, Pakistan, and China have all been identified as hotspots for the disposal of e-waste. This article presents a critical examination on the chemical nature of ewaste and the resulting environmental impacts on, for example, microbial biodiversity, flora, and fauna in ewaste recycling sites around the world. It highlights the different types of risk assessment approaches required when evaluating the ecological impact of e-waste. Additionally, it presents examples of chemistry playing a role in potential solutions. The information presented here will be informative to relevant stakeholders seeking to devise integrated management strategies to tackle this global environmental concern.

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IUPAC Chemistry and the Environment Division,
Pure and Applied Chemistry: The Scientific Journal of IUPAC

Purchase, D, G. Abbasi (Golnoush), Bisschop, L.C.J, D. Chatterjee (Debashish), C. Ekberg (Christian), M. Ermolin (Mikhail), … Wong, M. (2020). Global occurrence, chemical properties, and ecological impacts of e-wastes (IUPAC technical report). Pure and Applied Chemistry: The Scientific Journal of IUPAC, 2020, 1–34. doi:10.1515/pac-2019-0502