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Present and potential future recycling of critical metals in WEEE

  • Ioannis Bakas
  • Christian Fischer
  • Adrian Harding
  • Sabine Haselsteiner
  • David McKinnon
  • Jan Kosmol
  • Leonidas Milios
  • Andrius Plepys
  • Naoko Tojo
  • Henning Wilts
  • Dominic Wittmer
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Document type: Working paper
Publisher: Copenhagen Resource Institute

Abstract english

This report focuses on critical metals in Waste from Electrical Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and their recycling possibilities. The criticality is defined in terms of demand. The EU needs access to these metals and recycling can be an important part of the supply-strategy. The report covers assessments of (1) the potential amount of critical metals in the selected product groups, and (2) the actual and potential amount of recycled critical metals.

The study shows that the current recycling of critical metals in WEEE is very low, but that the potential amount could be increased threefold by 2015. More recycling requires many different initiatives such as better collection, better pre-processing and end-processing, limiting the export of WEEE or used products out of the EU and better design of the EEE-products.

The study also shows the need to improve the data availability regarding simple questions such sales volumes, WEEE composition and the precise content of critical metals. Information also has to be available on the critical metals in the individual components of the EEE-product-groups, so the recyclers can easily identify and get access to the most important components. In that way it is also possible to make it more transparent, where the difficulties and the possibilities are located in the whole recycling process. It will make it easier for recyclers and smelters to give feed back to the designers of EEE so the designing of the products better can support the recycling process.


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • critical metals
  • WEEE
  • recycling
  • Europe


Andrius Plepys
E-mail: andrius [dot] plepys [at] iiiee [dot] lu [dot] se

International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE)

Lund University P.O. Box 196, 22100 Lund, Sweden
Visiting Address: Tegnérsplatsen 4,Lund

Telephone: + 46 46 222 00 00 Fax: + 46 46 222 02 10