From: Greenpeace India, SciDevNet, More from this Affiliate
Published January 6, 2014 01:02 PM

Volume of electronic waste set to rise by a third

The amount of electronic waste produced globally is set to grow by a third between 2012 and 2017, according to a forecast made by experts at a global partnership created to tackle e-waste.

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The forecast was made as the Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) Initiative launched an interactive, online world map depicting the amount of electronic waste produced in different countries across the globe and a report showing the amount of e-waste shipped from the United States to developing countries.

On average, each person on the planet produced seven kilograms of e-waste in 2012, that is 48.9 million tons in total, and StEP estimates that this will rise to 65.4 million tons in 2017.

A lot of this potentially hazardous waste ends up in developing countries, where governments still do not pay enough attention to the rising problem, which also offers business opportunities, according to Ruediger Kuehr, executive secretary of StEP.

He tells SciDev.Net that the aim of the online map and the report, which were launched last month (16 December), is to allow governments, industry and other organizations to plan e-waste management and recycling of discarded mobile phones, laptops, televisions and computer monitors.

The map is based on 2012 data from 184 nations. As well as the amount of e-waste generated in each country, it shows how much electrical and electronic equipment was put on the market and contains national regulations regarding e-waste’s management.

Kuehr says he hopes the map will raise awareness of the scale of the problem of poor e-waste management, particularly in developing countries that lack regulations about the dismantling of these products.

The United States produced the largest total amount of e-waste in 2012 — nearly 9.4 million tons — followed by China, which generated almost 7.3 million tons.

Per capita, however, Qatar topped the list with 63 kilograms per person, nine times the world average, with the lowest global production per person coming from Ethiopia (680 grams), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (210 grams).

US e-waste exports

The report on US e-waste generation and exports was written by experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States.

Mobile phones, televisions and computer monitors are the most common type of e-waste shipped from the United States, it finds.

Part of that electronic rubbish then travels illegally to developing countries, where it is dismantled "in conditions that could be hazardous to the workers, their health or the environment," according to Jeremy Gregory, a co-author of the report.

Read more from our affiliate, SciDevNet.

Electronic waste image via Shutterstock.

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