Waste electrical and electronic equipment
Data indicates that while reuse and recycling of the collected waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) seems to be on track in the majority of the EU and EFTA member countries, the collection of the WEEE has shown varying but generally improving results. It appears that the amounts of WEEE that are collected, are largely reused (either as a whole appliance or components) or recycled although there is still room for improvement in some countries. However, more attention should be given to the improvement of collection systems. The level of collection is still very low in many countries, especially when compared to the amount put on the market (Figure 1).
Are we improving the collection and management of waste electric and electronic equipment (WEEE)?
Regarding the rate of total WEEE collected compared to the amount of electric and electronic equipment (EEE) put on the market in 2010, among the countries where data is available on total collection and amount put on market (as Figure 1 shows) there were 4 countries that collected over 50%, twelve countries between 30% and 50%, and 9 countries between 10% and 30 %.
The total collection rate (including collection both from households and other sources) achieved so far is around 37 % by weight of amounts put on the market in 2010 — the average of 26 European countries for which all data are available. This is an improvement compared to the data reported for the year 2006 when the collection rate was approximately 23%. However, due to the life span of the majority of EEE products the comparison of the amount put on the market and the amount collected in the same year is just an indicative number. Ideally, a collection rate would have to be calculated as rate of the WEEE generated, but this data does not exist.
Altogether, 20 out of the 26 EEA countries (where data on collection from households is available), reported to have met the collection target set in the 2002 WEEE Directive of 4 kg per person per year from private households in 2010, while there were only 11 countries out of 22 in 2006 that could meet the target applying from 2006 (Figure 2). An observation of the level of collection achieved and the entity(ies) in charge of collecting WEEE from households reveals that the countries that achieve a collection rate above 50% (Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the UK) engage municipalities in the collection. The revised WEEE Directive (2012/19/EU) requires countries to meet collection rates for WEEE of 45% of EEE put on the market on average in the three preceding years from 2016 and 65% from 2019 (or alternatively 85 % of WEEE generated on the territory of that Member State). Meanwhile, the export of WEEE out of the EU disguised as used goods is still a grave concern.
The amount of WEEE reused and recycled has increased over time in all countries where data is available, as Figure 3 illustrates. In 2010 already most EEA countries achieved a reuse and recycling rate above 80%, and a further 5 EEA member countries between 70% and 80%.
It should be noted, however, that the recycling rate can be significantly affected by the point in the waste management chain where the recycling figures are taken. For instance, if the figure for the amount of materials recycled is taken from what is fed into a shredder, the figure may not necessarily reflect the amount of materials that are actually recycled.
Furthermore, a high recycling rate of WEEE does not necessarily correspond to a high collection rate. In 2008, among the 21 EEA countries that achieved a recycling rate above 80%, six achieved a collection rate below 25% (compared to the amount of products put on the market), but this situation improved by 2010 when the collection rate of countries with high recycling rates has also improved: out of the 20 EEA countries with recycling rates above 80%, there were 9 countries between 30-45% and 4 countries (Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden) already with above 45% collection rate.
There is also a time lag between the point at which a product is put on the market and when it is discarded. While there is a possible environmental advantage of using new products or their components in certain EEE from an energy efficiency point of view, from a resource efficiency point of view it is often better to use products longer.
Indicator specification and metadata
The indicator shows the amount of WEEE that has been put on the market, collected in total, collected from private households and reused and recycled in European countries, stated in kg/capita. The figures are related to the collection target of 4 kg/capita/year. Development over time is shown for WEEE collected from households and WEEE reused and recycled.
kg / cap / year
Policy context and targets
Separate collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and its subsequent recovery and treatment in an environmentally sound manner help achieve not only reduction of environmental impacts, but also better resource efficiency. In order to address these issues, the EC Directive 2002/96/EC (WEEE Directive) introduced producer responsibility for WEEE and set a target for collection of WEEE as well as targets for recovery and for reuse and recycling. The revised WEEE Directive (2012/19/EU), published in July 2012, sets more ambitious targets for collection based on the weight of electric and electronic equipment (EEE) put on the market, defines staged recovery and recycling targets and extends the scope of EEE covered by the regulation.
Collection targets according to WEEE Directive 2002/6/EC:
- Collection target for WEEE from private households of 4 kg / cap / year, to be achieved by each EU Member State (according to WEEE Directive 2002/96/EC)
New collection targets laid down in the recast WEEE Directive (2012/19/EU) (with options for derogations for Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia):
- Until 31 December 2015, a rate of separate collection of at least 4 kilograms on average per inhabitant per year of WEEE from private households or the same amount of weight of WEEE as was collected in that Member State on average in the three preceding years, whichever is greater, shall continue to apply.
- From 2016, the minimum collection rate shall be 45 % calculated on the basis of the total weight of WEEE collected in accordance with Articles 5 and 6 in a given year in the Member State concerned, expressed as a percentage of the average weight of EEE placed on the market in the three preceding years in that Member State.
- From 2019, the minimum collection rate to be achieved annually shall be 65 % of the average weight of EEE placed on the market in the three preceding years in the Member State concerned, or alternatively 85 % of WEEE generated on the territory of that Member State.
Reuse, recycling, recovery targets according to WEEE Directive 2002/96/EC:
- By 31 December 2006, manufacturers and importers were to achieve, for treated WEEE, recovery targets of 70–80 % differentiated for the respective categories of EEE, as well as material and substance reuse and recycling targets of 50–75 % depending on the category.
Recovery targets according to Art. 11 of the recast WEEE Directive (2012/19/EU):
- recovery targets of 70-85% , and reuse and recycling targets of 50-80% differentiated for the respective categories of EEE
Related policy documents
Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) Directive 2012/19/EU
The objective of the Directive is to promote re-use, recycling and other forms of recovery of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in order to reduce the quantity of such waste to be disposed and to improve the environmental performance of the economic operators involved in the treatment of WEEE. The WEEE Directive sets criteria for the collection, treatment and recovery of waste electrical and electronic equipment. The Directive is a recast of Directive 2002/96/EC. ( http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:197:0038:0071:EN:PDF)
Waste electrical and electronic equipment Directive (2002/96/EC)
The objective of the Directive is to promote re-use, recycling and other forms of recovery of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in order to reduce the quantity of such waste to be disposed and to improve the environmental performance of the economic operators involved in the treatment of WEEE. The WEEE Directive sets criteria for the collection, treatment and recovery of waste electrical and electronic equipment. (This Directive will be repealed with effect from 15 February 2014). Revised version: 2012/19/EU
Methodology for indicator calculation
In order to calculate the per capita value for the four data types each data type was divided by the numbers of inhabitants for each country and multiplied with 1000 to convert tonnes into kg.
Methodology for gap filling
No gap filling was applied
No methodology references available.
Data sets uncertainty
For 2006 data on total WEEE collection and WEEE collection from households is available for only 22 EEA countries. Information on total reuse and recycling of WEEE is available for 19 EEA countries.
For 2008 data on total WEEE collection is available for 27 EEA countries and WEEE collection from households is available for 27 EEA countries. Information on total reuse and recycling of WEEE is available for 26 EEA countries.
Please note that figures for Italy and for Bulgaria are changed compared to figures available at Eurostat: Bulgaria reported 10 times more WEEE collected than EEE put on the market in 2008, and Italy reported a higher amount of WEEE collected only from households. However, more reliable data from the quality reports the countries submitted to Eurostat were obtained and these were used in the indicator. In Figure 1, the data on EEE put on market reported by the Netherlands to Eurostat has been removed as they were reported in a non-comparable format. According to the information provided by the country in the quality report submitted to Eurostat it was a combination of pieces of items and tonnage.
Not relevant since the indicator matches the definition of the European Commission.
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
Population statistics (Eurostat)
provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
Waste and material resources (Primary topic)
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- WST 003
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoAlmut Reichel
EEA Management Plan2011 2.5.3 (note: EEA internal system)
Frequency of updates
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
PDF generated on 01 May 2016, 08:03 PM