The “mountain” of waste electronic and electrical equipment discarded in 2021 will weigh more than 57 million tonnes, researchers have estimated.
That is heavier than the Great Wall of China – the planet’s heaviest artificial object.
The assessment is by an international expert group dedicated to tackling the global problem of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).
They point out that the value of those discarded materials is vast.
According to a 2019 report by the World Economic Forum, the world’s electronic waste has a material value of $62.5 billion (£46 billion) – more than the GDP of most countries.
“A tonne of discarded mobile phones is richer in gold than a tonne of gold ore,” said Dr Ruediger Kuehr, director of the UN’s Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) programme.
The waste includes items such as mobile phones, fridges, kettles, televisions and electric toys or sports equipment.
Globally, the amount of so called e-waste generation is growing by two million tonnes every year. It is estimated that less than 20% is collected and recycled.
Pascal Leroy, who is director general of the expert group the WEEE Forum, says by making products with shorter lifespans and limited repair options, manufacturers have a major role to play in the increase of waste.
“Fast mobile phone development, for example, has led to a market dependency on rapid replacement of older devices,” he told BBC News.