E-waste World Map Reveals National Volumes, International Flows


The Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) Initiative has created and released the first online world map that geographically depicts the escalating global e-waste problem. The StEP E-Waste World Map allows users to interactively explore comparable annual data from 184 countries, which include 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 (discarded for collection by a recycling company or disposal service). For example, the map shows that almost 48.9 million metric tons of used electrical and electronic products were produced last year — an average of 7 kg (43 pounds) for each of Earth’s 7 billion inhabitants. And the flood of e-waste is growing. Based on current trends, StEP experts predict that by 2017, the total annual volume will rise by 33 percent to 65.4 million tons, the weight equivalent to almost 200 Empire State Buildings or 11 Great Pyramids of Giza. By providing a better sense of anticipated e-waste quantities, the initiative is expected to help governments and companies plan e-waste management. “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,” says Ruediger Kuehr of the 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 map was launched along with a complementary new StEP report characterizing US domestic and transboundary flows of used electronics discarded from households. Information covering international e-waste rules, regulations, policies and guidance can also be found on the StEP website.

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