When producer responsibility was introduced in 2001, the trade organisations for Sweden’s electronics producers set up a joint service organisation to facilitate the recycling process. This organisation was El-Kretsen.
Our mission is to help producers fulfil their producer responsibility by offering a nationwide collection system.
Since we came into existence in 2001, we have been working closely with Sweden’s 290 municipalities. Together with producers, municipalities and recyclers we make taking environmental responsibility easy.
Who are we?
El-Kretsen is a non-profit organisation owned by 19 different trade organisations and certified by ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015. Our organisation is small, but efficient. Our organisation is small, but efficient, and based on our shared desire to offer our customers quality solutions that are both environmentally and financially viable.
Our organisation is small, but efficient
What do we do?
Our nationwide collection and recycling system has been divided into two categories: Household services and business services. The household collection service goes under the name of “Elretur” and is administered together with the municipalities. The collection from the business sector is administered in conjunction with the municipalities and our contracted transporters.
The story of producer responsibility and El-Kretsen
In Sweden, producer responsibility came
into existence in the 1990s in the following sequence:
Producer responsibility for electrical items
By creating an ordinance on producer responsibility for electrical and electronic products as early as 2001, Sweden was ahead of the WEEE directive. From one day to the next, the responsibility of transporting and recycling all the waste that had been collected nationally went over from the municipalities to the producers. A number of trade organisations quickly saw that there would be an advantage in creating one system for all producers, and so they established El-Kretsen. To finance the collection, the first step was to contact producers and invite them to join El-Kretsen and pay environmental fees.
In the first few years, the costs of collection exceeded the profits. A few years on, however, we started to see the collected volumes yielding a profit as the recycling processes improved, material prices increased on the world market and El-Kretsen gained a position as a handler of large amounts of WEEE. On the world market, material prices can fluctuate considerably, but in broad terms half of our profit stems from material sales. The other half consists of the environmental fees paid by producers.
Our in-house analysis facility in 2006
A milestone in El-Kretsen’s history was reached in 2006, when we set up our own analysis facility. This meant that we were able to keep our own records of what we collected and compile our own statistics. Since then, the statistics we produce at the analysis facility has provided the foundation for recycling procurements, as it provides us with information on the value of the collection as well as the handling costs, for example by knowing how many products have integrated batteries that need removing.
Producer responsibility for batteries
In 2009, a separate producer responsibility was added for batteries. Unlike producers of electrical products, producers of batteries are responsible also for small-scale collection. Overnight, we became responsible for 10,000 battery bins that needed administering and emptying. Since 2015, we have been working with a collection system for industrial batteries, thereby handling producer responsibility for these battery producers, too.
Continuously developing our services focused on resource-efficient recycling
Like other companies, El-Kretsen has moved from fax machines and Excel sheets to digital portals. Today, we are an IT-centred company handling large amounts of data through the portals used by municipalities, transport companies and producers. hese services have gradually been expanded to reduce the level of administration involved and improve quality.
The waste that used to be buried is now being dismantled down to the smallest components to be sanitised and recycled – but it doesn’t end here. Together with our producers and recyclers, we look to the future and work hard to make recycling even more resource-efficient. That’s what we mean by serving the environment.