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Discarded Electrical and Electronic Equipment is world's fastest growing waste stream, growing by 38% in 2030

The Printed Printed Circuit Boards that we will be sourcing come from end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment. A more general name for this is e-waste. Within the European Union this waste stream is called WEEE. 

That stands for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment.


The EU’s WEEE Directive deals with the collection of all types of waste household equipment and sets targets for the minimum amount of electronic waste collected per capita per year. The WEEE directive is not just about collection, the policy consists of three pillars: reducing waste, reuse and recycling.

The directive first places WEEE into historic and non-historic categories. Historic WEEE implies equipment placed on the market prior to 2005. Equipment placed on the market after 2005 is known as non-historic WEEE and its collection and recycling is officially the responsibility of the producer/distributor.

Low recycling and collection rates

The EU recycles less than 40% of its e-waste. However, the aim is that at least 70% to 85% of the waste electrical and electronic equipment (different percentages for different product groups) will be collected in the member countries. 

Circular Industries’ UMF-PCB can help producers and distributors with their WEEE collection and recycling responsibilities.

A global issue

The low collection and recovery rates of materials from complex metal containing waste streams is a global issue. The world generated near 50 Million tons of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) last year, a figure expected to grow by 38% to 78 Million tons in 2030.

However, not only the collection and recycling rates of WEEE have to improve drastically but also the recovery of elements, to keep these available for future generations. 

Therefore, a new recovery standard is needed, to which the raw materials producers commit.

New benchmark

In our opinion, the directive is still incomplete.
The recycling rates say nothing about the number of elements that are actually recovered from WEEE and that become available again as pure raw materials for the manufacturing industry. In practice, most of the elements present in Printed Circuit Boards are not recovered. For this reason, we as Circular Industries are creating a new benchmark for the smelting and refining industry: maximum recovery and refining of the number of raw materials present in PCBs.

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