Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is still one of the EU’s fastest-growing waste streams. Among these items, small devices have the lowest reuse/recycling collection rates. For instance, it is estimated that 700 million unused and waste mobile phones are stored in households across the EU.
The European Commission has recently published a recommendation serving as a policy guide to assist Member States in enhancing the reusability and recycling rates of small electronic devices, including phones, tablets, and laptops.
The recommendations are based on a 2022 study exploring different options for return schemes for such devices.
The Commission emphasises that this waste can have a valuable role in a circular economy: these devices contain a large variety of materials, including critical raw materials, which can be reused to produce new devices.
If this waste is managed more efficiently, the EU can reduce its dependence on imports for many of these materials and build resilient value chains.