WEEE: an ecological bomb from the illegal channel

Abusive deposit or landfill?

By 2019, Italy will have to collect 85% of the total of WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) and will have until 2014 to implement the new European rules on the matter. This will mean a substantial increase in collection volumes - estimated at 980 thousand tons of WEEE - and a consequent increase in system costs which could reach 740 million euros. However, there are some critical points, starting with the negative effects of informal channel, on which it is necessary to work to ensure greater clarity and respect for the rules to the operators of the supply chain.

In sight of this, ReMedia, Collective System for the eco-sustainable management of all types of WEEE, batteries, lead accumulators and photovoltaic systems, has carried out a study - the first in Italy - on the economic and operational implications of the new European directive on WEEE. The research was presented at the Chamber of Deputies in Rome during the event organized by the Symbola Foundation by title “WEEE: ecological threat or urban mine?". Starting from the data collected and analyzing the situation also from the economic point of view of the WEEE system in Italy, ReMedia asks the institutions for a strong regulatory intervention to ensure the reporting and traceability of technological waste and thus achieve the objectives required by the new European Directive. .

Alongside the Official WEEE System, made up of collective systems, the informal channel, made up of commercial operators that deal with the collection of technological waste without being in compliance with the required standards and without guaranteeing reporting and traceability to the State. According to the study conducted by ReMedia, the WEEE generated in Italy in 2011 amounted to approximately 880,000 tons, equal to 14.6 kg / inhabitant, but the collective systems collected only 4.3, equal to 37% of the total flows. About 5 kg / inhabitant are managed by the informal channel, another 5 kg / inhabitant make up the "dispersed" (non-intercepted waste). It turns out that 10 kg / inhabitant do not follow the official flow, generating serious environmental and economic damage and citizens' health.

In particular, it is not certain that the WEEE managed by operators outside the official system use technologically suitable systems and follow the correct disposal procedures. Furthermore, since they do not have to bear the costs for bringing the structures up to standard, the informal operators are economically advantageous from a situation of unfair competition. The situation and the consequent damages will be even more serious thinking about 2019, when the volumes of domestic WEEE will increase considerably.

Analyzing the supply chain starting from the producers, the study highlights a first major problem: that of free rider, i producers not registered in the national register or who declare to WEEE Coordination Center less than they actually put on the market. Estimating a 2011 market (POM) of 1.2 million tons of EEE (20 kg / inhabitant), in fact, as many as 300 thousand tons (5 kg / inhabitant) are "swallowed" by free riders. This causes an increase in costs for producers who respect the rules equal to about 15 million euros a year.

“The ReMedia studio is very important - he has declared Fabio Renzi, General Secretary of the Symbola Foundationbecause it lays the foundations for a work for the collection, proper recycling and traceability of WEEE that must be done by 2013, with Italy having to transpose the European sector directive by mid-February 2014. A fact that opens up a promising new 'frontier' for the development of the green economy and which, by stimulating new supply chains and new standards of efficiency in the reuse of secondary raw materials, represents an important opportunity for a large manufacturing country like Italy ".

The official WEEE management system domestic it comes close to a cost of 180 million euros, which, in a hypothetical scenario formulated by ReMedia for 2019, could exceed 700 million euros, for a collection of almost 1 million tons. All the players in the supply chain, Producers, Local Authorities, Consumers and Distributors, participate in covering these costs.

"The data and the analysis of the flows of the sector are a fundamental element to highlight the problems of the WEEE supply chain, considering future evolutions and the new objectives imposed by the EU", he has declared Danilo Bonato, General Manager of ReMedia. “In light of the situation that emerges from the study, it is clear that a regulatory change is needed to prevent unofficial operators from stealing a substantial part of technological waste, causing damage of great importance. In addition, it is necessary to work to optimize collection models, thanks to the strong commitment of local authorities and distribution, while at the same time allowing producers to be able to count on the visible fee, an essential tool for ensuring transparency and financial balance for the system ".

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