Only about 25% of Europes medium sized household appliances and 40% of larger appliances are collected for salvage and recycling, leaving substantial room for improvement, according to a study for the European Commission by a United Nations University-led consortium. Small appliances, with a few exceptions, are close to zero percent collection.
The study suggests possible long-term collection rate targets of around 60% for small appliances like MP3 players and hairdryers, as well as for medium sized audio equipment, microwaves and TVs and 75% for large appliances like refrigerators and washing machines. If implemented, these targets would lead to a reported European harvest of roughly 5.3 million tonnes of e-waste by 2011, up from 2.2 million tonnes today, says study manager Ruediger Kuehr of UNUs office in Bonn, Germany.
The study predicts that across the EU27 (see http://europa.eu/abc/european_countries/index_en.htm) e-waste will rise 2.5 to 2.7% per year - from 10.3 million tonnes generated in 2005 (about one-quarter of the worlds total) to roughly 12.3 million tonnes per year by 2020.
The EU Directive on WEEE (Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment) prescribes a collection rate of 4 kg per capita. However, the study points up large differences in collection rates today between EU member states. And while the 4 kg target can be met easily by wealthier member states, it represents a very challenging target for new members, the study says.
Todays low collection rates result in part from low public awareness and represent a major cause of concern, according to Steve Ogilvie of AEA Technology, who calculated the amounts of EEE arising as waste.
There are clear benefits to the environment to collect and treat all forms of e-waste, says the lead study author Jaco Huisman of UNU. However, salvaging and recycling different types of e-waste benefit
|Contact: Terry Collins|
United Nations University