E-waste to jump one-third to 65.4 million tonnes annually by 2017, says StEP report

December 17, 2013 // By Julien Happich
By 2017, all of that year’s end-of-life refrigerators, TVs, mobile phones, computers, monitors, e-toys and other products with a battery or electrical cord worldwide could fill a line of 40-ton trucks end-to-end on a highway straddling three quarters of the Equator.
The forecast based on data compiled by “Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) Initiative” represents a global jump of 33% 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 escalating 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 tons of used electrical and electronic products was produced last year - an average of 7 kg for each of the world's 7 billion people. And the flood of e-waste is growing.

Based on current trends, StEP experts predict that, by 2017, the total annual volume will be 33 per cent higher at 65.4 million tons, 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,” says 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.”

Digging into the waste pile

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