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E-waste study shows benchmarking potential

The Netherlands – During WeCycle’s ‘The Future Flows’ congress held on March 16 in the Dutch capital Amsterdam, a study was presented that critically assesses the e-waste situation in the Netherlands. According to Jaco Huisman, Scientific Advisor at the United Nations University (UNU), this detailed investigation of waste flows can be used for improved data gathering across the world, noting that ‘the ability to determine what is regenerated is a vital starting point’.

Finding ways to ‘treat more and collect better’ was the core objective of the study, says Mr Huisman. Building on information accumulated for the 2011 Dutch E-waste Quantification project, he was able to map out the complicated landscape for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) by distinguishing the country’s true stock and export figures, aided by his put-on-market (POM) theory.

This was no easy feat as the study reports that 17% of Dutch waste goes undocumented. Additionally, he discovered there is still widespread uncertainty as to when a product can actually be labelled as WEEE. Mr Huisman explains: ‘A mechanical toy, for instance, is operated electronically but it doesn’t typically look like WEEE, does it? This goes for a lot of items that contain batteries – and so not every item is accurately identified.’

In attempting to address the e-waste problem, he maintains that establishing a target linked to generated electricals and electronics is ‘much more fair’. As all devices would have to be recorded first, this approach would entail a lot of work but would provide the greatest overall clarity and insight, according to the UNU.

The entire report can be read at:

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