The Average Person Buys 40 Pounds of Electronics Per Year

Scientists at the European Environment Agency ( EEA) have just filed an eye-opening environmental report. The report looks at electronics consumption patterns in the European Union (EU) and the impacts they have on the environment. One highlight amongst the research includes the finding that each EU citizen consumes 40 pounds of electronics per year. Another is that they use electronics for at least 2.3 fewer years than intended or desired.

A report from the EEA finds that the average EU citizen consumes 44 pounds of electronics per year.

ETC/WMGE based on Cordella et al.

Circular, a source for resource and waste professionals, reported on the EEA’s findings. The complete original report, titled “Electronic products and obsolescence in a circular economy,” can be found here.

“Over 20 kg [or approximately 44 pounds] of electrical and electronic products are put on the market on average per person in the EU every year,” the EEA writes in its report. The Agency adds in a chart (below), that the average person in the EU consumes 18.2 kilograms, or 40 pounds, of electronics per year.

The EEA identified the patterns, in part, thanks to case studies of four different product groups: smartphones, televisions, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners. The agency found that, in every one of those categories, the “average actual lifetimes… are at least 2.3 years shorter than either their designed or desired lifetimes.”

Commenting on the patterns, the EEA notes that delaying obsolescence of electronics can “significantly reduce” their impact on the environment. The EEA also says it will aim to enable and scale up “circular business” models. Businesses using these models would strive for minimal environmental impact through the use of eco-friendly designs, energy labeling, and extended producer responsibility (EPR).

A report from the EEA finds that the average EU citizen consumes 44 pounds of electronics per year.


Although the usage report does make the average electronics consumer seem gluttonous, there is a silver lining here. The EEA says the EU recovered 4.5 million metric tons, or 44%, of the e-waste it generated in 2017. It’s unclear what that number has been recently, but that’s still hopefully a sign greener gadgets are on the horizon.

Featured Image: J M

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