Management of Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment: The Case of Television Sets and Refrigerators

Article excerpt

Abstract: Waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) constitutes one of the most complicated solid waste streams, in terms of its composition, and, as a result, it is difficult to be effectively managed. Waste from electrical and electronic equipment recycling is an important subject not only from the point of waste management, but also from the recovery of valuable materials. Characterization of this waste stream is of paramount importance for developing a cost-effective and environmentally friendly recycling system. Selective disassembly, targeting on singling out hazardous and (or) valuable components, is an indispensable process in the practice of WEEE recycling. It is very costly to perform manual dismantling of those products, due to the fact that brown goods contain very low-grade precious metals and copper. This work focuses on two major types of WEEE, television sets and refrigerators, giving analytical information on specific recovery and recycling procedures for their effective management.

Key words: WEEE, television sets, refrigerators, management, environment.

Resume : Les dechets d'equipements electriques et electroniques (DEEE) representent l'un des flux de dechets solides les plus compliques en termes de composition; ils sont donc difficiles a gerer de maniere efficace. Le recyclage des DEEE est un sujet important du point de vue non seulement de la gestion des dechets, mais aussi de la recuperation de materiaux de valeur. La caracterisation de ce flux de dechets est d'une importance capitale pour le developpement d'un systeme de recyclage rentable et ecologique. Le desassemblage selectif, visant a separer les composantes dangereuses et (ou) de valeur, est un processus indispensable de la pratique du recyclage des DEEE. Il est tres dispendieux d'effectuer le desassemblage manuel de ces produits car les metaux precieux et le cuivre qu'ils contiennent sont de tres pietre qualite. Le present travail porte sur les deux principaux types de DEEE, les televiseurs et les refrigerateurs, fournissant de l'information analytique sur les procedures specifiques de recuperation et de recyclage afin d'assurer leur gestion efficace.

Mots-cles : DEEE, televiseurs, refrigerateurs, gestion, environnement.

[Traduit par la Redaction]


Electrical and electronic products continue to revolutionize communication, entertainment, transportation, education, and health care around the world. There is no sign that this revolution will abate soon. At the same time, the production of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) is increasing worldwide and constitutes one of the fastest growing markets in the world, fact that indicates that the amount of waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) will continue to increase in the coming decades. Technical innovation will continue to be a cornerstone of social progress and advanced electronic products are leading the way. In the 21st century, further advances in rapidly developing fields at the interface between science and technology, such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, clean energy, and renewable energy, will pave the way to a better quality of life and a more sustainable future (Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition 2002).

WEEE is one of the priority waste streams according to the European Union (EU) policy, since it has already become one of the major challenges for waste management. It is expected that WEEE quantities will be growing rapidly in the coming years (Fisher and Mark 2005). European Directives 2002/96/EC (as amended by the Directive 2003/108/EC) and 2002/95/EC set the frame for WEEE management, by delegating producers responsible for its management and imposing minimal quantitative targets for recovery and recycling. In particular, the following targets had to be reached by the member states of EU until 31 December 2006 (with the exception of some member states that were provided with an expansion until 31 December 2008): (i) separate collection of 4 kg of WEEE per habitant per year and (ii) recovery and utilization of 80% for bulky household WEEE, 75% for information technology (IT) WEEE, and 70% for small household WEEE, of the average weight per apparatus in parallel with recycling of the 75% of each of them for bulky household WEEE, 65% for IT WEEE, and 50% for small household WEEE. …