Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) designates almost all appliances for domestic or professional use that are discarded, which incorporate electrical circuits or components and work with a battery or power supply. Every year, 53.6 million tonnes of WEEE are produced in the world, only 17.4% of which are collected and recycled in an organised way. Apart from growing waste production, the ICT sector generates more than 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions (i.e., more than aviation), mainly because of the energy consumption of data centres, networks and electronic equipment. The manufacture of electronic equipment also requires natural resources such as water, metals, and minerals. The extraction and transformation of these resources can have detrimental effects on the environment.
Reducing waste and optimising the use of resources
The circular economyThe circular economy is a restorative and regenerative economy. By maintaining the value of the products, materials and resources in the economy through smart product design, repurposing and/or shared use of products, it reduces the extraction of natural resources by using resources already present in the economy. aims to reduce waste and maximise the use of resources by reusing, recyclingAny recovery operation through which waste, including organic waste, is reprocessed to become substances, materials or products that can be used for their initial function or other functions. and regenerating end-of-life products and materials. In the ICT sector, certain circular strategies are a priority:
- Ecological design: electronic equipment can be developed using recycled materials and applying sustainable manufacturing practices. The companies in the sector can design more sustainable and ecological equipment that use recycled materials and that can easily be taken apart and repairRepair is making a faulty product work again, allowing its use to be extended without the user parting with it, or with a view to reuseReuse designates all operations by which substances, materials or products that are not waste are used again in an identical way to their originally intended purpose. (donation, second-hand sale).ed to extend their lifespan.
- Reuse: reuse extends the lifespan of products and reduces electronic waste production. Companies can develop programmes for reuse of electronic equipment at the end of its lifespan (computers, mobile phone etc.): repair, reconditioning or redistribution to people in need.
- Recycling: end-of-life devices can be recycled to recover the valuable materials they contain, such as gold, silver and copper. Companies can put in place recycling programmes to ensure that these materials are recovered and reused in the manufacture of new electronic equipment.
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Circular Bytes (NL)