October 14, 2023

Did you know that Saturday 14.10.23 is Ewaste day?

What is Ewaste Day?

International E-waste Day is a yearly event initiated by the WEEE Forum and its members that takes place the 14 October. The goal of this initiative is to highlight the issue of electronic waste and encourage the responsible management of e-waste.

This year, the slogan is: ‘You can recycle anything with a plug, battery or cable!’ and the emphasis is being put on invisible e-waste. The WEE forum defines invisible e-waste as ‘electronic items that often go unrecognized and are not properly recycled within the appropriate waste stream.’ It also states that ‘while e-waste is often associated with discarded gadgets and devices, a significant amount of electronic waste remains hidden in plain sight.’

Here are some examples of invisible ewaste:

  • Toothbrushes
  • Vapes
  • Household equipment
  • Medical equipment

To combat this problem, the forum promotes the separation of collection of waste as this step allows for high-quality recycling and reuse. Furthermore, it helps keep hazardous substances from contaminating other waste streams.

FEAD agrees with this stance, as we believe that once products become waste, separate waste collection becomes essential for effective waste management. And to achieve this collection, we need the support and collaboration of Member States, citizens and industries. Separate collection, with separation at source by the citizens, is one of the most important operations at the beginning of the chain. It is decisive to ensure quality recycling. Recently the Commission has adopted a set of policy recommendations for Member States to improve and incentivise the return of used and waste mobile phones, tablets, laptops and their charges.

However, we cannot forget that all solutions are not that straight forward if we consider the diverse local factors across the EU.

The education and awareness of citizens are essential in the implementation of proper separate collection, as we have seen the devastating consequences one wrongly discarded lithium-io battery can have.

In these instances, we can see that Ecodesign is key: citizens must have access to products that are easily separated and easily collected. For example, some households items have batteries that you cannot separate from the item when throwing them out. This can have disastrous results in the case of lithium-io batteries that can then start fires in waste facilities. That is why FEAD wants to call to attention the responsibility of producers in making sure the products designed can be efficiently integrated into the Circular Economy. For this, the EPR scheme is helpful, as it encourages producers to consider environmental considerations when designing their products.

We all have a part to play in the circularity of the economy. Producers must design products that can have a circular lifespan, citizens have to pay attention to the products that they buy and to make sure to separate their waste as they should and to recycle it when possible. And waste management companies sort and recycle these products.