WEEE worth €3.6 billion by 2020
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- Pollution & Waste Management ,
The value of recyclable waste electrical and electronic equipment could reach €3.6 billion in Europe by 2020, according to research by the University of Sheffield.
In their report, the researchers say between 30 and 50 million tonnes of WEEE is discarded globally each year and that the annual volume of e-waste is expected to increase by up to 5% as consumers replace old products with newer ones.
Popular electrical products, such as smartphones and tablets, contain precious materials, including gold, copper, palladium, silver, platinum and cobalt.
Lenny Koh and colleagues at the university's Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre developed a methodology to help organisations identify key materials in 14 products, including LCD and LED notebooks, televisions, mobile phones and solar panels.
The information can be used by companies to prioritise investment in materials recovery based on various factors, such as the amount of materials that are available in waste streams, their material composition, the price volatility of recovered materials and degree of purity required.
"This research will play a critical role in improving society and the world in terms of reducing waste, improving recycling, reducing reliance on natural, rare earth and precious materials, and improving resource efficiency and circular economy in key manufacturing processes where we rely on these materials," said Koh.
She said that, as demand for many of the scarce resources used in electrical products continues to rise, industry would be left with little choice but to capture recycled materials for manufacturing and meet the demand for their new products.
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