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E-cycling in Denmark: shrinking waste stream, rise in collection

Scandinavia – In Denmark, the amount of e-scrap generated per year increased from around 45kt to over 81kt between 1990 and 2015, according to a new study by the University of Southern Denmark. And yet, researchers stress that in recent years ‘the e-waste quantity does not continue to grow, rather it is has peaked and is declining’.

As of 2015, an average Danish household owns at least 27 end-of-life electronics, while an estimated 33 million units are currently in use across the country.

The national collection target of 4 kg of e-scrap per household for 2015 ‘has easily been achieved’. Meanwhile, the volume of electronics put on the market declined significantly from 2006 to last year; dropping from 101kt to just over 84kt. This compares to 61kt put on the market back in 1991.

The report also cites the fact that no less than 12.7 kg per capita was already collected in 2014. That year, some 21kg worth of electronics per capita was put on the market in Denmark. ‘This is the seventh highest total among the 31 European countries,’ the study suggests.

It is added that more than 97% of all e-scrap collected originated from households. The report observes that Denmark has been performing ‘consistently well’ with respect to the collection target set in line with the WEEE Directive.

And yet, attention is drawn to the fact that by 2019, EU member states are expected to collect 65% of the average weight of electronics placed on the market. On average, 64% of electronics put on the market was collected between 2006 and 2014. However, this is only 40% for the segment of ‘small appliances’.

Researchers conclude that the changing legislation calls for recalibration of the performance indicators for the system. They state: ‘A more robust and systematic documentation of the flows will support the WEEE management system in achieving higher resource recovery.’

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