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Issue 46
, 2013
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Future US exports of e-waste may end up in India, UN warns

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Source: Times of India, Date: , 2013

LONDON: An average American was responsible for generating 29.8 kg of hi-tech trash last year - six times higher than China's per capita figure of 5.4 kg. 

A Briton on the other hand produced nearly 22 kg of 
e-waste by dumping their TVs, computers and mobile phones - seven times higher than an average Indian who generated nearly 3 kg of electronic trash last year for every person in its population. 

India generated 4362 metric kilo tonne of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE anything with a battery or a cord) which ultimately resulted in 2751 metric kilo tonne of e-waste containing toxic substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and flame retardants. 

UN has warned that it is likely that future US exports of e-waste will end up in India, as the only other glass-to-glass furnaces in the world (in China and Malaysia) are scheduled to close by 2013. 

The UN's first ever e-waste world map released on Saturday shows 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. 

This, UN says created a flood of e-waste. 

Mobile phones constitute the biggest component in units - with an estimated 120 million collected - while TVs and computer monitors made up a major proportion of the total weight. 

Based on current trends, the UN has now predicted that, by 2017, the total annual volume of e-waste will be 33% higher at 65.4 million tons, the weight equivalent of almost 200 Empire State Buildings or 11 Great Pyramids of Giza. 

What has emerged as most worrying is the trend of developing countries becoming fertile dumping grounds of e-waste for developed nations. 

Every day worldwide, an estimated 123,000 metric tonnes of damaged, obsolete or simply unwanted electrical and electronic devices are discarded and become e-waste. 

In another startling forecast, UN says that 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. 

According to the 
United Nations University's (UNU) StEP Initiative (Solving the E-Waste Problem Initiative), in 2012 China and the US topped the world's totals in market volume of EEE and e-waste. China put the highest volume of EEE on the market in 2012 - 11.1 million tons, followed by the US at 10 million tons. 

Those positions were reversed when it came to the total volume of e-waste generated per year, there being more products put on the market in the past in the US which are now likely to be retired. Here the US had the world's highest figure of 9.4 million tons and China generated the second highest e-waste total of 7.3 million tons. 

However, the world's two biggest economies were far apart when it came to the amount of annually e-waste per person. 

"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." 

Britain estimates that 10 million tons of electronic products will be bought in the UK in the next six years alone.