US and China create a third of global WEEE

US and China are responsible for just under a third of the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) generated worldwide, according to the Global E-Waste Monitor published last month.

The United Nations University (UNU) report stated that 41.8 million tonnes of WEEE were generated globally in 2014 up from 39.8 tonnes in 2013. The UNU estimated that by 2018 this figure would be close to 50 million tonnes.

In 2014, the WEEE generated globally included 1 million tonnes of lamps, 3 million tonnes of small IT, 6.3 million tonnes of screens, 11.8 million tonnes of large equipment and 12.8 million tonnes of small equipment. The UNU estimated that this represented US $52 billion of potentially recoverable resources but less than one-sixth of this was recycled properly or made available for reuse.

The report also looked at the health implications of incorrectly disposed of WEEE when toxins such as mercury, cadmium, chromium, and ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons are released into the environment with the potential to cause liver and kidney damage, impaired mental development and cancer.

The UK generated 1.5 million tonnes of WEEE, the second largest absolute amount in Europe after Germany.

Read the full Global E-Waste Monitor 2014 report.