CBS Local — Before turning on the microwave to re-heat last night’s dinner, a new report claims your common kitchen appliance is as big of a threat to the environment as a gas-powered car.

According to the University of Manchester, the total number of microwaves in European Union households emit 7.7 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. That total was found to be the same as 6.8 million cars. The report, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, claims that the growing number of microwave units being manufactured are taking their toll on the environment and contributing to climate change.

While Europeans aren’t likely to give up the convenience of quickly re-heating their food, the study found that one of the biggest environmental “hotspots” microwaves create is in the disposal process.

“Consumers now tend to buy new appliances before the existing ones reach the end of their useful life as electronic goods have become fashionable,” Dr. Alejandro Gallego-Schmid said in a university release. “As a result, discarded electrical equipment, such as microwaves, is one of the fastest growing waste streams worldwide.”

Dr. Gallego-Schmid adds that, although the technology has improved, the lifespan of a microwave has actually gone down over the last 20 years. Microwaves have reportedly gone from a shelf-life of 10 to 15 years in the 1990’s to just under eight years today. “Given that microwaves account for the largest percentage of sales of all type of ovens in the EU, it is increasingly important to start addressing their impact on resource use,” Gallego-Schmid adds.

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