A report from the United Nations University studied the world’s e-waste production, and found that the United States and China are the biggest producers. Most of our home appliances, computers, and smart phones are thrown out but never actually recycled. Interestingly enough, neither the US or China has the most e-waste per capita in the world.
The report defined e-waste as equipment using a battery or cord — and only one sixth of e-waste is recycled worldwide. The rest ends up in landfills where it is often stripped of valuable materials and components and left to leak toxic materials into the environment. CBS also reported that Africa was identified as one of the lowest e-waste producing countries, but still ends up with the most e-waste in its landfills.
“Worldwide, e-waste constitutes a valuable urban mine – a large potential reservoir of recyclable materials,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General David Malone.
It’s also interesting to note that, despite popular belief, the majority of e-waste does not come from cell phones and computers. Actually, technology only makes up about seven percent of the world’s e-waste. The biggest offenders were actually home appliances such as washing machines, microwaves, dishwashers, toasters, and vacuum cleaners.
The report came to the conclusion that our e-waste production will only get worse in coming years. The amount of e-waste is projected to rise 21 percent by 2018 to 50 million metric tons.
To learn more about what Americans do recycle, visit a previous blog post.