cc Flicr / Ethan Oringel
Despite what we think, there are downsides to recycling the electronics we use everyday.
Many of the critical materials contained in these complex products can get lost during the recycling process and the energy used to make the product is gone forever. The CO2 emissions which entered the atmosphere have not, however.
One solution is to push for more re-use of the product, so that it doesn’t get broken up into components as quickly. This has the advantage of lowering CO2 emissions and saving further resources from being extracted.
Today very few EU member states actually have preparation for re-use targets for electronic waste. Spain and the Belgian region of Flanders are notable exceptions. For the other countries, re-use targets are included in the general recycling targets which, more often than not, acts as a disincentive against re-use.
The European Commission is considering introducing such a target EU-wide by the end of the year, when it will propose its second version of the Circular Economy Package.
Our colleague Carsten Wachholz was interviewed in this Deutsche Welle programme making the case for preparation for re-use targets in the EU.
You can hear the whole interview by clicking on the Soundcloud below.