Sustainability – Here and in the world

Below you’ll find a description of our business in numbers. The statistics and reports, stemming both from our own research and that of others, are meant as an information bank for those of you who want to know more. As citizens of the world, we’re keen to share our knowledge and experience, and as a company, we’re interested in the world around us as it inspires us to make recycling even more efficient. We receive delegations visiting from all parts of the world, particularly from countries that are in the process of introducing producer responsibility.

WEEE from a global perspective

El-Kretsen collects approximately 0.3 per cent of all the WEEE produced globally. This corresponds to 140,000 tonnes. How the remaining 45 million tonnes are handled is something we have only a limited knowledge of. Based on documented information, it’s estimated that around 20 per cent is handled in an environmentally acceptable manner, which makes it a widespread problem. When valuable material like copper is reclaimed by burning old cables, or when items like batteries that can leak poisonous substances are simply dumped in nature, this affects both people and the environment. Moreover, the problem is constantly growing, as the amount of electronics keeps growing and along with that the amount of WEEE.

Click on one of the reports on the right to get more in-depth information about Europe and the world in terms of electronic waste, producer responsibility, recycling, and much more.

Illegal trade of WEEE

Together with EU, Interpol, the UN and other partners, El-Kretsen’s European umbrella organisation WEEE-Forum has been working on a two-year project: “CWIT – Countering WEEE Illegal Trade”. The aim was to map out the flows of WEEE and to lay down the foundation for future decisions on how to minimize illegal export. This study shows that of the approximately 10 million tonnes of WEEE produced in Europe in 2012, only 35 per cent was managed through official recycling systems. The rest was either exported or handled within the EU outside of the official collection systems. 750,000 tonnes of WEEE is estimated to end up as general rubbish.

The project was completed in 2015 and the report can be read in full here.

El-Kretsen worldview

A visit from India

In the spring of 2017, El-Kretsen welcomed Harveen Kaur, a Doctoral Research Scholar from the University of Dehli. She wanted to get a better understanding of how the collecting and recycling of electronics works in Sweden and to compare the conditions here with the possibilities that exist in India.

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El-Kretsen visits Brazil

Sweden has bilateral cooperation with Brazil on waste and waste management. Within this framework, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s International Section arranged a study visit for Brazilian civil servants to Sweden. They wanted to learn more about how producer responsibility works in Sweden, both in theory and in practice. 6 months later, a follow-up workshop was held in Brasilia.

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Waste management in Russia

In recent years, Russia has expanded its legislation on waste management. Initially, the focus has been on reducing the amount of waste going to landfill. Russia has also been interested in introducing producer responsibility as a method and a control instrument. As part of a cooperation project with the Swedish EPA, El-Kretsen was also invited to a seminar on producer responsibility in Moscow in 2015.

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Where scrap becomes statistics

Most statistics on WEEE in Sweden are likely to have been generated by our own analytical division. Around 2 per cent of the assorted electronics collected finds its way here to be turned into statistics and provide us with information. This information is used to make sure our pre-treaters receive the correct compensation for their work, but also to map out how our waste changes over time. Among other things, we keep a running tab on kinds of materials, average age and weight per product.

At our analytical division we also carry out in-depth studies of individual products or projects. In 2015, we did a survey of how large a proportion of the collected WEEE was still in working order and could have been reused.

Trends and lessons learnt

Were things better in the old days? Yes, at least for those who wanted to make money on the materials collected from WEEE.

Today, metals are being replaced by plastics. This results in lighter products made of more composite materials. Alloys and laminates are proof of how things have developed, but they also provide an increased challenge from a recycling perspective. Being able to separate the components and restore them to their original state is often a technical challenge requiring a lot of energy. How to tackle this is a major question for the industry as a whole, and one we need to debate and look into to be able to create an efficient materials recovery process for today’s products before they become tomorrow’s waste.

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Assorted electrical goods development
pieces towards kg