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Feasibility study for setting-up reference values to support the calculation of recyclability / recoverability rates of electr(on)ic products

: Chancerel, Perrine; Marwede, Max
: Mathieux, Fabrice; Talens Peiró, Laura

Fulltext (PDF; )

Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2016, 152 pp.
JRC Technical Reports, EUR 27922 EN
ISBN: 978-92-79-58390-2 (Print)
ISBN: 978-92-79-58391-9 (PDF)
Study, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IZM ()

The ‘feasibility study for setting-up reference values to support the calculation of recyclability / recoverability rates of electr(on)ic products’ commissioned by the Joint Research Centre is embedded in the activities of the European Commission targeting the improvement of the resource efficiency by promoting the recyclability of products. The objectives of the study are to define key harmonized methodological aspects to calculate reference values on recycling and recovery rates (RR rates) of materials and components for electr(on)ic products, and to assess the benefits and limitations associated to the development and maintenance of such reference values. It fits well into the European Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan of 2015 that calls for more systematic analysis of recyclability, in particular under ecodesign. To quantify the recycling and recovery rates of materials and components, three main options are possible and combinable: (1) use data on RR rates compiled to comply with the reporting requirements of the WEEE directive for WEEE input flows and combined with analyses of the input composition, (2) conduct, e.g. in the frame of research projects or certification processes, additional batch analyses at treatment operators, and (3) model the processes with simulation tools. In this study, the focus was set on option 1. The frame set by the definitions, methods and rules adopted in the European Waste Framework Directive and in the standards EN 50625 and TS served as a methodological basis to define the requirements on the data. The data collected through batch analyses in WEEE treatment facilities, compiled using the software WF-RepTool, checked and validated, were linked with data on the WEEE input flow to calculate material-specific recycling and recovery rates. To calculate recyclability and recoverability rates of products, the material-specific rates are combined with the bill of materials of the product. One task aimed at testing the data collection methodology on few materials (including some Critical Raw Materials) and components contained in two case studies chosen for their relevance for ecodesign requirements: washing machines and laptops. The calculation of reference values using a harmonized scope and harmonized methods would provide common data reflecting the economically running treatment processes used by WEEE treatment operators for calculating recyclability and recoverability rates of products. The calculated recyclability and recoverability rates of products can be used as one of the indicators of the material efficiency of a product, and integrated into further environmental assessments. The proposed method for the production of the reference values relies on the cooperation with stakeholders, for instance operators of treatment facilities and WEEE compliance schemes. The method provides new opportunities to link product design and recycling, as well as to enhance the dialogue between the stakeholders.