The United Nations (UN) warned that waste from discarded electronics like mobile phones, laptops and refrigerators is piling up worldwide, and it urged far better recycling of the often hazardous rubbish.
A full 44.7 million tons of e-waste was generated around the world in 2016, up 8% from two years earlier, and that's the equivalent of 4,500 Eiffel Towers, according to a report from the UN's International Telecommunication Union, the UN University (UNU) and the International Solid Waste Association.
By 2021, the world will likely be cluttered with a full 52.2 million tonnes of such waste, which today consists mainly of fridges, washing machines and other domestic appliances, but also increasingly mobile phones and computers.
At the same time, this waste, which can pose serious risks to human health and the environment, is rarely recycled or properly discarded, with most of it ending up at dumpsites or in incinerators, according to the report.
Only 20% of all e-waste, or 8.9 million tons, generated last year was documented as properly recycled.
"E-waste management is an urgent issue in today's digitally dependent world, where use of electronic devices is ever increasing," ITU chief Houlin Zhao said in a statement.
Perhaps the most promising approach to reducing e-waste is a system where consumers no longer purchase devices, but instead only the services they provide, Ruediger Kuehr of UNU's Sustainable Cycles Programme told AFP.