The biggest per-capita tallies were in countries known for green awareness, such as Norway and Denmark, with Britain fifth and US ninth on the UN report’s list
Saturday 18 April 2015
A record amount of electrical and electronic waste was discarded around the world in 2014, with the biggest per-capita tallies in countries that pride themselves on environmental consciousness, a report said.
Last year, 41.8m tonnes of so-called e-waste – mostly fridges, washing machines and other domestic appliances at the end of their life – was dumped, the UN report said.
That’s the equivalent of 1.15m heavy trucks, forming a line 23,000km (14,300 miles) long, according to the report, compiled by the United Nations University, the UN’s educational and research branch.
Less than one-sixth of all e-waste was properly recycled, it said.
In 2013, the e-waste total was 39.8m tonnes – and on present trends, the 50-million-tonne mark could be reached in 2018.
Topping the list for per-capita waste last year was Norway, with 28.4kg (62.5lbs) per inhabitant.
It was followed by Switzerland (26.3kg), Iceland (26.1kg), Denmark (24.0kg), Britain (23.5kg), the Netherlands (23.4kg), Sweden (22.3kg), France (22.2kg) and the United States and Austria (22.1kg).
The region with the lowest amount of e-waste per inhabitant was Africa, with 1.7kg per person. It generated a total of 1.9m tonnes of waste.
In volume terms, the most waste was generated in the United States and China, which together accounted for 32% of the world’s total, followed by Japan, Germany and India.
Waste that could have been recovered and recycled was worth $52bn, including 300 tonnes of gold – equal to 11% of the world’s gold production in 2013.