Electronic industry and circular economy: new opportunities

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Remedia has promoted the research “Electronic industry: preparing for the change to seize new growth opportunities” (Industria elettronica: prepararsi al cambiamento per cogliere nuove opportunità di crescita), conducted by IEFE Bocconi University. The study estimates – with the introduction of the new European directive on the circular economy and the “open scope” – an increase in the equipment released for consumption (+1.3 million tonnes of electrical and electronic equipment) and in the number of producers involved in the WEEE system (+6000-7000). Besides, the research, considering the evolution of the WEEE system towards the circular economy, estimates a positive environmental and social impact in the near future. “According to IEFE Bocconi’s analysis, in 2020 the electrical and electronic equipment released for consumption is expected to exceed 1.3 million tonnes, up 50% on the current volumes. Thanks to this evolution, the WEEE recycling system, from here until 2030, could create new jobs (between 13,000 and 15,000 units), if the European waste collection and recycling targets are met. The economic value associated with the avoided CO2 emissions to 2030 is important: it can be estimated between 85 and 100 million euros per year”.
The so-called “open scope”, ie the extended application of the WEEE regulation to all appliances that now aren’t explicitly excluded, will put manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment in front of a series of challenges and opportunities that Remedia has analyzed. How much is the collective systems’ activity today? Only in 2016, approximately 283,000 tonnes of WEEE were delivered at the treatment plants, + 13.5% over the previous year. Important numbers – equal to about 40% of the equipment released for consumption – but not enough to meet the new EU targets. These targets will have to be harmonized with the contents of the new European directive on the circular economy, which is currently in the process of being defined. This directive will also expand the concept of “Extended Producer Responsibility” (EPR) and will define the new scope for the WEEE system in Italy. Finally, the transition to the “open” system will give more importance, in the collection of WEEE, to the retailers and installers, and will require appropriate logistic networks and treatment technologies for the new types of waste.

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