E-Waste Map Shows Where Old Tech Really Goes to Die

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Dec. 16 2013 4:17 PM

E-Waste Map Shows Where Old Tech Really Goes to Die

108037814
Where does it all go?

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Obsolescence doesn’t make old gadgets disappear, but it does make people forget about them. And that’s a problem. A new U.N. report shows that the volume of e-waste worldwide will rise 33 percent by 2017 to 65.4 million tons.

Lily Hay Newman Lily Hay Newman

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

A lot of the issue comes from the United States, which has the most annual e-waste with 9.4 million tons, and an average of about 65 pounds per person. China follows up with 7.3 million tons total, but only about 12 pounds per individual.

Advertisement

The “Solving the E-Waste Problem” (StEP) Initiative also released an interactive map that shows country-level e-waste data around the world for anything with a battery and/or a power cord. The map allows easy access to information about a country’s population, average individual purchasing power, e-waste put on the market and generated per year, and any disposal regulations currently in place in for e-waste.

E-waste is an environmental and health concern because it can cause heavy metals and other toxic substances to contaminate soil and water. Additionally, people looking to recover precious metals or other parts sometimes scavenge and break down devices that were not disposed of properly, and in the process they can release toxins into the air.

As the Guardian points out, Interpol also released a statement last month indicating that e-waste from industrialized countries is being illegally unloaded on developing nations. Interpol is initiating criminal investigations into 40 companies, citing agent reports that for every three containers being checked on their way out of the EU, one holds some type of illegal e-waste. Exporting old electronics is not necessarily illegal if they are being repurposed or reused in some way, but Interpol says that much of the “exporting” going on is really tantamount to dumping.

To keep up with rising e-waste rates and movement around the globe, the StEP Initiative says the data sets that power the map will be updated regularly.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Propublica
Oct. 17 2014 4:21 PM Why the Poor Pay $1,400 for Old iPads #MuckReads: A weekly roundup of investigative reporting from ProPublica.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 1:54 PM Republican Midterm Debate Strategy: Be Pro-Life, But Not Anti-Abortion
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 19 2014 7:30 AM Persistence Pays Off: The Smoking Trail of a Shooting Star
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.