WEEE recycling: Wastes electrical and electronic equipments

Recent EU Directives specifically disposed for the collection and the regulated disposal of WEEE (wastes electrical and electronic equipments), with a particular emphasis on the importance of recycling.

Due to these rules, a big amount of WEEE is being made available to the recycling plants, and the amount is destined to increase. In these wastes, plastic content is very high. Until recently, these plastics had not been recovered and reused in a recycling closed loop.

Once more, thanks to its vast experience, SOREMA has been involved in very concrete and specific industrial tests on WEEE. We recently developed dedicated recycling solutions to properly wash, both in cold and hot conditions, separate, and dry all the plastic-rich contents of electrical and electronic equipments wastes.

The WEEE directive sets ten categories of waste:

  • large household appliances – such as refrigerators, microwaves, dishwashers and washing machines;
  • small household appliances – such as irons, toasters, and boilers;
  • IT and telecommunications equipment – such as laptops, cell phones, phones, printers, and calculators;
  • consumer equipment – such as radios, televisions, and musical instruments;
  • lighting equipment – such as lamps and fluorescent tubes;
  • electrical and electronic tools – such lawnmowers, electrical screwdrivers, sewing machines, and drills;
  • toys, leisure, and sports equipment – such as game consoles, and electrical trains;
  • medical devices – such as dialysis machines and cardiology equipment;
  • monitoring and control instruments – such as smoke detectors and heating regulators;
  • automatic dispensers – such as hot drink dispensers.

Based on the EU directives, manufacturers and distributors are responsible for the correct collection of these appliances and must create an adequate network. This is one of the reasons for which many retail distribution stores offer a service providing the collection of used household appliances when a new one is bought.

The importance of the recovery of WEEE is linked to the fact that it contains a complex mixture of materials, as a consequence of the many different components that need to be present in each appliance. If these materials are not correctly disposed of, they may be a significant risk for the environment and health. In addition, modern equipment often makes use of scarce and expensive materials. The EU has therefore placed emphasis on the need to recover and reuse these wastes, favoring a closed-loop cycle, with significant economic and environmental advantages. The variety and abundance of appliances falling under this regulation is an evident indicator of the great challenges and possibilities that arise from an efficient recycling process.

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