EERA report highlights huge scavenging problem across Europe

EERA report highlights huge scavenging problem across Europe

December 10, 2019
Lloyd Fuller

The scavenging of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) across Europe – which essentially means e-waste or components of e-waste, stolen or misappropriated for financial gain – is a huge problem and has been highlighted in a report published by the European Electronics Recyclers Association (EERA) last week

In 2019, EERA Members and other EU recyclers provided data relating to 2018 levels of scavenging, encompassing 520,000 tons of WEEE treated in 43 treatment locations across nine different countries. Astoundingly, according to the report findings, the value of scavenged materials in 2018 was €151 million.

Apart from the financial losses to waste compliance schemes and compliant recycling companies, there is a massive impact on the environment that cannot be ignored.

To give just one example, the scavenging level of compressors is of particular concern due to the release of ozone-depleting gasses contained in the refrigeration circuit into the environment. According to EERA’s research, this would equal 3.6 million tons of CO2 equivalent, or the annual emissions of two million cars.

Among the recommendations to combat the problems, the authors suggest:

  1. Make the EN 50625-4 on Collection and Logistics mandatory in all EU members states. This will lead to better material yields, less environmental damage and increases the changes to recover, for instance, Critical Raw Materials (CRMs);
  2. Establish an observatory to monitor the scavenging level in different countries/markets and associated environmental impacts, plus a common basis (indicators based on average market values of fractions) to estimate the economic losses due to scavenging;
  3. Identify alternative financing model (e.g. indexing) or compensation mechanisms (e.g. deduction from compensation sometimes paid to collection points) to balance the economic losses caused by scavenging;
  4. Raise the awareness on importance of quality in collection to foster the design of better policies and operational practices, also in conjunction with the implementation of the Circular Economy Package and the EIP on Raw Materials.

The report in full – along with the recommendations made by Sofies, which conducted the study – can be accessed by clicking the following link 

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