A new report suggests that thousands of tonnes of WEEE that could have been entering landfill is actually finding its way back into the recycling market, raising the predicted WEEE recycling rate from 37 percent to 50 percent
Market Flows of WEEE Materials
, compiled by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) indicates that over 50 percent of waste electricals and electronics are ending up reprocessed or re-used - as opposed to the 37 percent officially recorded through Approved Authorised Treatment Facilities (AATFs); but this could increase significantly if more items were channelled through the right routes to start with.
Lucy Keal from WRAP says about it has always been difficult to measure the total amount of WEEE being recovered through unofficial routes. "This is why we set out to model the path of items such as mobile phones, fridges and computers once they reached the end of their useful first life," she explains.
"We estimate that aside from the 37 percent entering AATFs, just over a fifth is also being recovered through Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs), scrap merchants, MRFs or incinerators, as well as reused through facilities such as E-Bay and car boot sales."
Now the model has identified the value of these routes, Ms Keal says it should be possible to support the industry in pulling more items through official routes to further increase reprocessing rates.
"It's clear that scrap merchants and separation from residual waste by MRFs play an important role," she says.
"But if we can keep increasing the quantity going through AATFs, which are well-equipped to recover the maximum materials from the WEEE, this should pull more items in through these other paths, increasing recycling rates overall and improving how we record and manage these items."
While 30 percent of waste electricals - half a million tonnes - are still being landfilled each year, and overall recycling rates could potentially fall as items get more complex, the model highlights opportunities to change this.
For the full report visit www.wrap.org.uk