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E-waste to top 65.4M tonnes yearly by 2017

Posted: 20 Dec 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:StEP? e-waste? electronic product? mobile phone? TV?

All of 2007's expired refrigerators, TVs, mobile phones, computers, monitors, e-toys and other products with a battery or electrical cord worldwide could fill a line of 40-tonne trucks end-to-end on a highway straddling three quarters of the equator. The forecast, based on data gathered by the Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) Initiative, represents a global jump of 33 per cent in just five years. While most of these used e-products are destined for disposal, gradually improving efforts in some regions are diverting some of it to recycling and reuse.

The growing global e-waste problem is graphically portrayed in a first-of-its-kind StEP E-Waste World Map available online. The interactive map resource, presenting comparable annual data from 184 countries, shows the estimated amount of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE - anything with a battery or a cord) put on the market and how much resulting e-waste is eventually generated (i.e. comes out of use or post-use storage destined for collection by a recycling company or disposal).

The map shows, for example, that almost 48.9 million metric tonnes of used electrical and electronic products was produced last year - an average of 7kg for each of the world's seven billion people. And the flood of e-waste is rising.

Based on current trends, StEP experts predicted that, by 2017, the total annual volume will be 33 per cent higher at 65.4 million tonnes, the weight equivalent of almost 200 Empire State Buildings or 11 Great Pyramids of Giza.

"Although there is ample information about the negative environmental and health impacts of primitive e-waste recycling methods, the lack of comprehensive data has made it hard to grasp the full magnitude of the problem," said Ruediger Kuehr of United Nations University and Executive Secretary of the StEP Initiative. "We believe that this constantly updated, map-linked database showing e-waste volume by country together with legal texts will help lead to better awareness and policy making at the public and private levels."

The StEP e-waste world map database shows that in 2012 China and the United States topped the world's totals in market volume of EEE and e-waste. China put the highest volume of EEE on the market in 2012 at 11.1 million tonnes, followed by the U.S. at 10 million tonnes. Those positions were reversed when it came to the total volume of e-waste generated per year, there being more products put on the market in the past in the U.S. that are now likely to be retired. Here the U.S. had the world's highest figure of 9.4 million tonnes and China generated the second highest e-waste total of 7.3 million tonnes. However, the world's two biggest economies were far apart when it came to the amount of annually e-waste per person.


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