The large quantities of e-equipment produced, and the resulting e-waste generated are driving global demand for cheap electronics. The largest e-waste producer is Asia, with a good 40 % or 18.2 million tons per year (4.2 kg/capita), followed by Europe with 12.3 million tons (16.6 kg/capita), of America with 11.3 million tonnes (11.6 kg/capita), Africa with 2.0 million tonnes (0.9 kg/capita) and Oceania with 0.7 million tonnes (17,3 kg/capita). There are also different ways and rates of e-waste collected, in Africa at 0 %, in the Americas 17 %, in Europe 35 %, in Asia 15 % and in Oceania 6 %. E-waste movement pathways are scattered, making it difficult for the official collection system to be effective. It is estimated that by 2021 global WEEE production will reach 50 million tons. In addition to producers in the EU taking care of their obligations through extended responsibility schemes, in Slovenia e-waste is also collected by utility companies and scrap metal collectors and informal collectors who are only interested in certain e-waste fractions. Some end up in mixed municipal waste and some are stored in households.
20 – 30 % of small e-waste ends up in mixed municipal waste, with the largest share of toys, leisure equipment, small household appliances and energy-saving lamps. Less than 40 % of e-waste is recycled in the EU. When we discard a fully or partially functioning appliance, either because it is not repairable, because it is not possible to replace the battery or because the software is no longer supported, the materials trapped in the appliance are not recovered and we lose the true value of the product.
Legal requirements for reuse of redundant functioning e-equipment
In Europe, Spain was the first country in 2015 to legally set targets for the reuse of waste electrical and electronic equipment at 1.5 % by weight of all collected equipment. In Belgium, in 2020, the Walloon Government decreed that 2 % of waste electrical and electronic equipment must go through the process of preparation for reuse.
Life Turn to e-circular project goal is to divert 2 % of our collected e-waste to a re-use, repair or refurbishment process. In addition, we have set targets to complete over 25.000 diagnostics of e-equipment, a 25 % increase in the amount of service procedures and almost 20.000 pieces of e-equipment submitted in reuse preparation process.
In Slovenia, there are already legal entities that sell refurbished e-equipment, mostly IT, mobile phones and household appliances.
Legislators have divided the e-equipment into 6 groups:
- Heat exchange equipment,
- Large equipment,
- Small equipment,
- Small IT and communication equipment.
These 6 categories include all electrical and electronic products, with significant differences in function, weight, size, composition, materials and environmental impact. According to the UNU-KEYS classification, there are 54 homogeneous product types, each corresponding to one or more codes in the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System.