WEEE theft: a disturbing phenomenon

A landfill of WEEE

THE WEEE sell like hot cakes. The theft of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) from the municipal solid waste collection pitches it has taken on worrying contours. He denounced it Daniele Belotti, Regional Councilor for the Territory and Urban Planning of the Lombardy Region, during the conference Hi Tech & Environment organized by ReMedia Consortium, active for six years in the eco-sustainable management of technological waste throughout Italy: "The phenomenon is increasingly evident in the region - said the commissioner - and we think that fueling it is an increase in the uncontrolled demand for products that they range from discarded household appliances, to batteries, to lead accumulators ". A confirmation came from Danilo Bonato, Director General of ReMedia: “In fact we are witnessing a worrying multiplication of illegal or opaque channels of WEEE disposal, with environmental and economic damage”.

The hunt for WEEE, a phenomenon that involves the whole peninsula, is fueled by the value of some components that can be recovered, such as compressors for disused refrigerators, but also by the content of precious materials - think copper or nickel - which meet a growing demand on the clandestine market. Another target of thieves and in some cases of real criminal organizations is the content of precious metals and rare earths of WEEE, such as platinum, gold, silver, palladium, cerium and yttrium, which however require highly technological processes to be recovered.

The environmental damage caused by the theft of WEEE is mainly linked to the partial and approximate recycling of waste, the noble parts of which are recovered and the polluting parts such as oils and refrigerants are dispersed. The economic damage, on the other hand, also depends on the subtraction of precious metals, precious metals and rare earths from the official recycling channel, such as the one managed by ReMedia also through E-Waste, the laboratory created to enhance the recycling of rare earths and noble metals, which deprives the Italian industrial system of an important share of raw materials necessary for the construction of new electronic equipment.

Currently each EU citizen produces 17 kg of WEEE per year, a figure that according to estimates should rise to 24 kg by 2020. Lombardy, with 50 thousand tons, boasts the Italian collection record (1000 tons in the Municipality of Milan alone in 2011, according to AMSA data). Informing and sensitizing citizens on how important it is to correctly differentiate technological waste, an activity in which ReMedia invests heavily, will have an increasingly strategic importance.

Edited byMichele Ciceri

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