U.S., China lead in e-waste, forecast to grow 33% by 2017

The weight of electronic waste worldwide is expected to jump by a third to over 60 million tons annually by 2017, according to a new report.

E-waste includes end-of-life refrigerators, TVs, mobile phones, computers, monitors, e-toys, and other products with a battery or electrical cord.

The report based on data compiled by “Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) Initiative” a partnership of UN organisations, industry, governments, nongovernmental, and science organizations shows that in 2012 China and the United States produced the most e-waste.

While the study found that almost 48.9 million metric tons of used electrical and electronic products was produced last year an average of 15 pounds for each of the world’s seven billion people experts predict this will rise to 65.4 million tons, or the weight equivalent of almost 200 Empire State Buildings, over the next five years.

The report also reveals that several emerging nations have surpassed Western nations in generating e-waste, with China putting the highest volume of e-waste on the market in 2012, at 11.1 million tons.

In terms of the amount of annually e-waste per person, the U.S. was highest among major countries (and seventh overall) with each American responsible for an average 65 pounds of high-tech trash. That was almost six times higher than China’s per capita figure of 11 pounds.

“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,” said StEP initiative executive secretary Ruediger Kuehr.

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