Which Countries Generate the Most E-waste?

When we’re discarding items on a day to day basis, it can be easy to think that what we’re throwing away is insignificant compared to the rest of the population. But all that waste really adds up, and when you see the hard data about how much trash we contribute with e-waste (discarded electronics) alone, the amount is truly staggering.

In 2013, about 39.8 million tons of e-waste was produced, and the UN predicted that by 2017, the amount of that one year’s e-waste would be enough to fill a line of 40 ton trucks, stretching across three-quarters of the equator. This estimate would mean a 33% increase in total waste in five years.

Recent Statistics on Which Countries Generate the Most E-waste

According to the latest UN report, we’re still adding more e-waste to the pile. Statistics for 2014 indicate we threw away a total of 41.8 million tons of e-waste, a slight increase from 2013. Regulations concerning electronics disposal are becoming more common, with 4 out of 7 people held accountable under some type of e-waste law, but enforcement can be spotty, and these laws vary from region to region.

41.8 million tons is a lot of trash. How much is that per person on our planet? Nearly 13 pounds of e-waste each!

Who is Throwing Away the Most? And What Kind of E-waste?

Of course, we’re not all throwing away electronics at the same rate. That average is skewed by each country’s population and overall trash production. For example, Scandinavian and Northern European countries threw away the most waste per capita last year, with Norway tossing out a staggering 62.4 pounds of e-waste per person. However, populations in most of the top 10 list of trash producers per capita are mostly small.Which Countries Generate the Most E-waste

Who’s producing the most e-waste overall? It should come as no surprise that the United States and China are the world’s biggest producers of e-waste, throwing out 32% of the world’s total. Here in the U.S., we threw out an average of 48.7 pounds of e-waste last year.

E-waste is a Growing Problem

There are so many reasons why throwing away e-waste is a hazard and a waste. Globally, we lost out on 52 billion dollars in resources that were not salvaged from discarded electronics, including precious metals like copper and gold that simply ended up in a landfill.

Aside from the financial losses, we also added to a growing trash problem, and exposed our environment and the community to a number of hazards. Instead of re-using materials, more natural resources have to be mined to keep up with demand for new products, placing strain on the environment. E-waste in landfills can contaminate the soil, water, and air, posing a threat to public health.

E-waste is also often exported to developing countries, where it is dismantled in unsafe ways, rather than properly recycled. It’s difficult to know how big this particular problem is, since tracking the movement of e-waste is currently very difficult.

The Importance of E-waste Recycling Efforts

The news may be sobering, but there is hope. Increased regulations and growing public awareness will hopefully inspire more people to recognize the importance of recycling electronics and help spur more options for disposal.

So. How will you help be part of the solution?

At ICT, we are R2 certified, following the best practices in the industry for safe e-waste recycling. We offer companies responsible recycling solutions to suit their unique needs. Want to learn more? Contact us here!

Author Bio:

Susannah Bruck ProfileSusannah Bruck is a freelance blogger, editor, and ghostwriter. She has been putting her skills to use for clients since 2010, and enjoys working on formats ranging from blog posts to short stories and plays. You can find her at World Adventures 




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