Imagine a 176-pound (80 kilogram) pile of discarded products with a battery or plug in your living room. That’s how much e-waste the average American household of four throws out every year.
Around the world, as incomes rise and prices fall, the yearly e-waste mountain is growing, reaching 44.7 million metric tonnes (Mt) in 2016, according to the latest data available, released Wednesday. That includes old refrigerators, television sets, vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, mobile phones, computers, and much more. That amount would fill 1.23 million 18-wheel (40-ton) trucks—put them nose to tail and they form a line from New York to Bangkok and back. This e-waste mountain is expected to grow another 17 percent by 2021 to 52.2 million metric tonnes. This makes it the fastest growing part of the world's domestic waste stream, according to “The Global E-waste Monitor 2017,“ which published Wednesday. The Monitor is a collaborative effort of the United Nations University (UNU), the International Telecommunication Union, and the International Solid Waste Association.