Skip navigation.
Home

Does WEEE recycling make sense from an environmental perspective? The environmental impacts of the Swiss take-back and recycling systems for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)

TitleDoes WEEE recycling make sense from an environmental perspective? The environmental impacts of the Swiss take-back and recycling systems for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsHischier R, Wäger P, Gauglhofer J
Journal TitleEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Volume25
Pages525-539
Keywordsenvironmental impacts, LCA, Life cycle assessment, Material flow analysis, MFA, WEEE
Abstract

The production of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) is one of the fastest growing marketsin the world. At the same time this also means that the amount of waste electrical and electronicequipment (WEEE) will continue to increase in the coming decades. As it is crucial to obtain moreknowledge about the environmental consequences of the different WEEE treatment options, a studyexamining the two Swiss take-back and recycling systems of SWICO (for computers, consumerelectronics and telecommunication equipment) and S.EN.S (household appliances) has beenconducted. The two systems, which are based on an advanced recycling fee, are well establishedwithin Switzerland. With a combined approach of material flow analysis (MFA) and life cycleassessment (LCA), the environmental impacts of these two systems have been estimated, includingall further treatment steps, which transform the fractions either into secondary materials or into wastefor final disposal. As a baseline, we have used a scenario assuming that no WEEE is recycled andhence only primary production for the similar amount of raw materials. The impact assessment isbased on characterization factors according to the Dutch CML methodology.The results show that throughout the complete recycling chain the sorting and dismantlingactivities of companies are of minor interest; instead the main impact occurs during the treatmentapplied further downstream to turn the waste into secondary raw materials. Within the two systems inSwitzerland, the collection of WEEE seems much more relevant than the sorting and dismantlingactivities. When comparing the environmental impact of WEEE recycling with that derived from thebaseline scenario (incineration of all WEEE and primary production of the raw materials), WEEErecycling proves to be clearly advantageous from an environmental perspective.

AttachmentSize
Hischier_2005_EIAR.pdf461.35 KB
Login or register to post comments