Recycling of WEEE's: An economic assessment of present and future e-waste streams

Waste from Electric and Electronic Equipments (WEEEs) is currently considered to be one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world, with an estimated growth rate going from 3% up to 5% per year. The recycling of Electric or electronic waste (E-waste) products could allow the diminishing use of virgin resources in manufacturing and, consequently, it could contribute in reducing the environmental pollution. Given that EU is trying, since the last two decades, to develop a circular economy based on the exploitation of resources recovered by wastes, a comprehensive framework supporting the decision-making process of multi-WEEE recycling centres will be analysed in this paper. An economic assessment will define the potential revenues coming from the recovery of 14 e-products (e.g. LCD notebooks, LED notebooks, CRT TVs, LCD TVs, LED TVs, CRT monitors, LCD monitors, LED monitors, cell phones, smart phones, PV panels, HDDs, SSDs and tablets) on the base of current and future disposed volumes in Europe. Moreover, a sensitivity analysis will be used to test the impact of some critical variables (e.g. price of recovered materials, input materials composition, degree of purity obtained by the recycling process, volumes generated, and percentage of collected waste) on specific economic indexes. A discussion of the economic assessment results shows the main challenges in the recycling sector and streamlines some concrete solutions.


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Federica Cucchiella, Idiano D'Adamo, S.C.Lenny Koh, Paolo Rosa

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Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews

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