A METHODOLOGY TO ESTIMATE BENEFITS FROM WEEE

A METHODOLOGY TO ESTIMATE BENEFITS FROM WEEE (WASTE OF ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT) RECYCLING – ECODOM CASE STUDY

Luca Campadello, Mila Gandino, Marco Sala, Simona Ruocco, Stefania Sedini, Giorgio Arienti, Alessia Accili

ECODOM, Italy

WEEE is Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment and its proper treatment is one of the challenges Europe is facing, due to the recovery of economically essential materials and to the proper treatment of environmentally critical components (CFC, PCB, Lead). Ecodom has developed the methodology presented here, which covers all the phases of the WEEE recycling system and considers the impacts in term of energy used (GJ) and of equivalent CO2 emissions. The considered system starts from waste generation and it ends with the recycling or final disposal of the components and materials obtained through the treatment. The information used for the computation come from Ecodom activity; for what concerns the coefficients (for instance Italian electrical mix), they come from literature The novelty of this approach stands in evaluating environmental benefits through the comparison with a scenario in which Ecodom does not exist and WEEE is managed by other individuals (scenario B). The easiest hypothesis was to consider a scenario B in which WEEE is landfilled and all the raw materials it contains need to be mined. However, this option seems far from reality and overestimates the benefits. In the scenario B used, instead, half WEEE is managed by existing operators, with lower treatment performances, as recorded in 2008; the other half is managed by operators only interested in valuable fractions (iron, aluminum and copper). From this comparison, it is possible to highlight that environmental benefits from Ecodom activity, for each ton of WEEE managed in year 2015, are equal to 10.4 t CO2 eq/t WEEE and 4.1 GJ/t WEEE. In conclusion, thanks to the introduced methodology, it is possible to evaluate environmental impacts of WEEE management activity and, through the comparison scenario, to calculate the environmental benefits, with complete transparency in hypothesis and calculations applied.