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Another Greek tragedy: ‘the whole e-scrap collection system collapsed’

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the electronics recycling sector in Greece, according to Thomas Papageorgiou, compliance director at Athens-based recycling firm Anamet. During the six weeks quarantine period in Greece e-scrap collection dropped with 70 to 80%, he estimates.

‘Everything that applies for metals, certainly applies for electronics,’ noted Papageorgiou during an online panel discussion on global scrap trade presented by the BIR world recycling organisation.

The average amount of e-scrap collected in Greece ranges between 45 000 and 50 000 tonnes a year – but that’s under normal circumstances. ‘With almost two months lost during the pandemic I expect that the number this year will be somewhere around 40 000 or less,’ he said.   

Complete disaster

In Greece, retail shops were forced to close their doors while smaller scrap dealers stopped collecting. ‘In terms of sourcing material it was a complete disaster, the whole collection system collapsed’, said Papageorgiou.

To make things worse, Greeks were obliged to stay at home, spending less money. ‘As a result, I expect we’re going to see a continuing trend of more people having less to spend on consumer goods like fridges or air-conditioners, with the relevant production of scrap decreasing accordingly,’ Papageorgiou tells Recycling International on the sidelines of the online panel.  

More IT to flow in

On a positive note, greater working from home during the pandemic has led to an increased demand for lightweight IT equipment. ‘So an increase of higher value IT e-scrap might be expected,’ he says. ‘Nevertheless, tonnage wise, with fewer heavy items including white goods, the expectations are that the quantity collected will be less.’

No collection peak on the islands

Papageorgiou does not expect that the opening of the Greek islands, a major holiday destination, will boost e-scrap flows. ‘The tourist season is already delayed and specific protection measures are there so that hotels will not be overloaded. The hotel owners are thus reluctant to proceed with renovations or new investments which would normally create some e-scrap peak,’ he explains.

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