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Great potential to improve collection, recycling of Europe's electronic waste, says UN report

at least 72 different reports.

Take back and treatment costs are expected to rise from roughly EUR 0.76 billion in 2005 to EUR 3.0 billion in 2020, with costs varying per category of e-waste, says Dr. Magalini. For large household appliances like washing machines or electric stoves, the main cost is transportation. For cooling and freezing appliances, treatment creates the major cost.

"The rising value of salvaged components has made recycling more economically attractive," he adds.

Generally speaking, the largest environmental improvement and highest cost-efficiency can be realised by moving from an e-waste product-oriented approach to a more meaningful, differentiated e-waste category-oriented approach, says Dr. Huisman.

Other important conditions for success identified in the study:

  1. Better enforcement of the key provisions at EU and national levels of all organisational and operational parts of the recycling chain, with emphasis on stopping illegal waste shipments;
  2. Splitting the basic legal framework and key responsibilities from operational standards;
  3. Simplification and harmonisation of regulations throughout the EU27;
  4. Fostering consumer awareness to stimulate greater levels of e-waste collection;
  5. Removing the artificial and complicating split between B2B and B2C products and between new and historic waste for both simplification and environmental reasons;

Electronic products have a great positive impact on our lives, says UN Under-Secretary-General Konrad Osterwalder, Rector of UNU. However, their increasing availability and affordability means that they also present a growing environmental problem, one we all personally need to address. The old saying reduce, reuse, recycle applies particularly well to electronic waste.


Contact: Terry Collins
United Nations University

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