Photo/IllutrationMen collect, sort and bag electronic waste on a street in Seelampur, India. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The weight of all electrical and electronic equipment discarded worldwide in 2016 equals the mass of nine Great Pyramids of Giza, and the whereabouts of most of the waste is unknown, a report showed.

Japan accounted for 2.1 million tons of the world’s 44.7 million tons of so-called e-waste last year, according to the report released by the Tokyo-based United Nations University on Dec. 14.

The nation was, however, better than average in dealing with the garbage.

Japan has collected or recycled 26 percent, or 550,000 tons, of its waste, compared with the overall average of 20 percent.

That means 35.8 million tons of global e-waste is undocumented, including 34.1 million tons likely dumped, traded or recycled under inferior conditions, according to the report called Global E-waste Monitor 2017.

The report was compiled by United Nations University, the only U.N. agency headquartered in Japan, and other organizations in November.

The weight of e-waste generated worldwide in 2016, including used refrigerators, TVs, personal computers and cellphones, was up by 8 percent from 2014, when the previous study into the problem was conducted.

E-waste per capita was 6.1 kilograms, up by 5 percent, and it is expected to rise further.

Oceanian countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, discarded 17.37 kg of e-waste per capita, the highest rate in the world, and collected only 6 percent of it.

The per capita figure in Europe was 16.6 kg, with a 35-percent collection rate.

Accumulations of e-waste have been called urban mines because they contain valuable metals, such as gold, silver, copper and palladium. The e-waste discarded in 2016 could have generated more than $55 billion (6.2 trillion yen) in such metals, the report said.

Experts said further countermeasures are needed in countries where waste-collecting methods and recycling laws have not sufficiently developed.

The report warned that increases in e-waste were likely because prices have fallen for electrical and electronic equipment, and manufacturers encourage consumers to buy new or upgraded products even if their equipment is still usable.

Of the overall e-waste discarded last year, small equipment, including vacuum cleaners and microwaves, accounted for 16.8 million tons, while large equipment, such as washing machines and dishwashers, made up 9.2 million tons. Temperature-controlling appliances, such as refrigerators and air conditioners, were responsible for around 7.6 million tons of the total.

Those three categories accounted for 75 percent of all e-waste.

With cathode-ray tube televisions being replaced by more modern models, the category of screens, including laptops, made up 6.6 million tons of the e-waste total.

The report said the weight of such screen waste will likely decrease by 3 percent every year until 2020.