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The 20 Countries that Generated the Most E-Waste Last Year

We live in a world of gadgets.

It’s estimated that 75 percent of the world’s population own mobile phones. In the U.S. the number is 90 percent. Additionally, 32 percent own e-readers and 42 percent own tablets, according to Pew Research Center.

Consumers also are continuing the process of discarding old, unwanted and bulky cathode-ray televisions and monitors  in favor of flat-panel displays.

Disposing and recycling this waste, even lighter electronics, can be challenging. In the U.S. states and municipalities have many programs in place to try and collect and recycle e-waste. In some places, kiosks are available for drop-offs. There are national standards as well.

But at the end of the day, a lot of it ends up being landfilled either in the U.S. or abroad. The United Nations estimates that up to 90 percent of the world’s e-waste is illegally traded or dumped each year.

So which countries are responsible for generating the most waste?

The UN’s “The Global E-Waste Monitor” provides a thorough examination of the current state of things, including estimates from each nation on total volume and per capita generation of e-waste.

We’ve broken the data down into two lists. In part one, we look at which nations generated the most e-waste by volume in 2014. A second gallery (coming soon) will look at nations ranked by per-capita e-waste generation.

The countries fall roughly into two categories. Some countries tend to generate high rates of waste per inhabitant, building volume that way. Other nations on this list have much lower per capita rates of e-waste generation (for example, India), but have very large populations. 

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