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Europe recycles only a third of e-waste

September 1, 2015

E-Waste streets130911Romania, Spain and Cyprus are bottom in the rankings with less than 20 percent of e-waste properly recycled.

A study by the United Nations and INTERPOL found that only 3.3 million of the 9.5 million tonnes (35 percent) of the region’s electrical and electronic waste was recycled in 2012, with Sweden and Norway closest to the e-waste collection and recycling target of 85 percent, Reuters reported.

The report dismissed suggestions that most of the waste is illegally shipped to African nations such as Nigeria and Ghana for repair, while theft of valuable components means losses of €1.7 billion ($1.9 billion) a year for legal processors. EU rules require recycling of products with a plug or battery, so that metals such as gold or silver can be recovered.

Among the document’s recommendations are better police cooperation, more education for consumers about recycling, and a ban on cash transactions in the scrap metal sector, while another problem is that many people still don’t know where their nearest recycling centre is. Prosecutions are rare, although some countries have strict rules, INTERPOL said.

Jaco Huisman of the United Nation University, who was scientific coordinator for the project, said: “Most of the illegal e-waste trade is taking place next door rather than far away in Africa. Mismanagement is occurring everywhere.

“There is a lot of theft, scavenging … and quite a significant amount going into the waste bin.”

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