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Majority of e-waste produced by emerging economies

Global – The volume of electronic waste within China and other emerging economies now exceeds that of the Western World, concludes a research report from the United Nations-supported Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) initiative.

Said to be the first to have mapped electronic waste per country, the report calculates that the USA, the EU, Japan and Australia together produced approximately 23.5 million tonnes of used electronics in 2012 while the total for all other countries was 25.4 million tonnes.

By 2017, the volume of discarded electronics around the world will rise to 65.4 million tonnes from 48.9 million tonnes in 2012, the researchers forecast, with the emerging markets accounting for some 36.7 million tonnes of the total.

Economic growth and increasing prosperity are the main causes of the increase in electronic waste, according to the StEP report. Furthermore, electronic waste from developed countries often ends up in the emerging markets where the materials are being dismantled ‘under dangerous conditions’, it suggests.

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