Natural resources are limited and scarce worldwide. Therefore, a method for leveraging resources is becoming increasingly important, which has nothing to do with classic mining and mine work: the recycling and re-processing of waste.
Before electronic equipment can be recycled, they must first be collected. The collection rates of discarded electrical appliances in Austria are among the best in the European Union. According to figures of the WEEE Coordination Centre Austria, which is responsible for the collection and further distribution of Waste of Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) in Austria, more than 150,000 tons of electric and electronic equipment were placed on the market annually between 2005 and 2012. Nearly 70,000 tons of discarded units were collected during the same period, representing a collection rate of 43 percent.
Collection rates in Austria:
For refrigerators and freezers, the collection rate is just under 60% and even computer screens are returned at a rate of more than 80 percent. For large appliances such as washing machines or dryers, the return rate is less good with collection rates of only 26 percent.
Despite the ever-increasing WEEE return rates many Tonnes of European WEEE find their way illegally to landfills in Africa. As a recent study by the International Labour Organisation ILO points out, WEEE is the world’s fastest growing waste stream. According to ILO’s estimates, the annual increase is approximately four percent, which represents more than 40,000 tons of additional electronic waste per year.