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WOT? Insights into the flows and fates of e-waste in the UK

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Publication date21/09/2019
Host publicationPLATE – Product lifetimes and the environment Proceedings: 3rd PLATE Conference, September 18–20, 2019 Berlin, Germany
EditorsNils F. Nissen, Melanie Jaeger-Erben
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherUniversitätsverlag der TU Berlin
Number of pages6
ISBN (print)9783798331259
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In 2019 the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive documented a sizable increase in e-waste collection targets alongside a wider scope of electronic and electrical products covered by the legislation. These changes have significant impact for the UK, as for the past two years UK waste collected has failed to meet the newly adopted set of targets. Understanding the
flows and fates of products on and off the market becomes of paramount importance, especially for producer-led organisations who have the responsibility to achieve the targets and cover the operational costs. Historic e-waste estimation methods often assume that one product on the market will equate to
one product in the waste stream. In this article, we report on a project commissioned by one of the largest UK producer-led organizations – REPIC Ltd, in search of an explanation of the observed drop-in products on the market and WEEE collected, and the relationship between the two. We argue that we should move away from “one product in and one product out” assumption to include wider parameters that are tailored specifically for the UK, including those linked with the state of the market for electronic and electrical products and of the wider economy, examples include inflation-adjusted GDP per capita, consumer confidence index (CCI), inflation indices (CPI or RPI), number of households, wealth distribution etc. We show how this can be achieved by adapting a state-of the-art e-waste estimation model (Waste Over Time) to the UK context and developing it further to include additional drivers.