Emerging Economies Now the Leading Producers of E-Waste

Your old computers never die: the piles of hazardous discarded electronics will grow by 33% over the next five years

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The world’s massive mountains of electronic garbage are getting bigger, and according to a new report from a U.N.-backed initiative, emerging countries have overtaken the West in producing e-waste for the first time.

The report released Sunday by┬áthe Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) initiative looks at the growing problem of e-waste — discarded computers, cell phones, refrigerators and electronic appliances — that pose a serious environmental problem as they’re discarded. The overall amount of e-waste is expected to grow 33 percent in the next five years, from 48.9 million tons last year to 65.4 million tons in 2017. That’s the same weight as 200 Empire State Buildings.

Much of the growth in e-waste is expected to come from emerging economies such as China. The eleven emerging economies in the report tossed out more than a million tons of refrigerators and nearly three quarters of a million tons of personal computers.