Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are used as flame retardants, but are of concern due to their potential health risks. PBDEs are ubiquitous in the environment and their occurrence in polar regions highlights the importance of atmospheric transport. As yet, most researches emphasized evaporative and fugitive releases of PBDEs during production, use and waste management phases. However, the recent studies have uncovered the importance of the combustion sources when considering the release of PBDEs into the atmosphere. Nevertheless, complete PBDE emission inventories are lacking, and no global PBDE emissions from combustion sources have been estimated. Therefore, this study estimated the global PBDE emissions from combustion sources and illegal open burning of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and e-waste, as well as evaporative and fugitive releases from commercial PBDE mixtures. We found that combustion sources and illegal open burning of e-waste globally emit PBDEs at 6.75 and 0.255–5.56 tonnes year–1, and are important PBDE emitters. The effectiveness of reducing human exposure to PBDEs will be minimized and delayed if mitigation of PBDE emissions from combustion sources is ignored. Control of PBDE emissions from combustion sources should be taken along with the ban of commercial PBDE mixtures.