Waste statistics - electrical and electronic equipment
Data from January 2019.
Planned update: December 2019
Waste electrical and electronic equipment, total collected, 2016
This article gives an overview of developments relating to waste electrical and electronic equipment in the European Union (EU) and some European non-member countries; it draws exclusively on data collected within the framework of Directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).
The objective of the WEEE Directive is to promote reuse, separate collection and recycling and other forms of recovery of waste electrical and electronic equipment to reduce the quantity of such waste to be disposed of.
EEE put on the market and WEEE collected in the EU
Figure 1 shows trends in the amount of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) put on the market and of WEEE collected and treated for the EU in the period 2010 to 2016. Missing data for some EU Member States have been estimated in order to be able to show developments for the entire EU. The time lag between the year when EEE is put on the market and the year when it becomes waste is currently not taken into account when monitoring the WEEE collection target. This will change with the revised monitoring from 2016 onwards (see Context section for more details).
Between 2010 and 2013, the amount of EEE put on the market dropped by nearly 0.7 million tonnes to less than 8.8 million tonnes in 2013. This decrease (7.2 %) is seen as most likely due to the recession following the global financial and economic crisis but has been by far compensated between 2013 and 2016. Amounts of EEE put on the market increased again in 2014 to 9.3 million tonnes. In 2015 and 2016 the amount put on the market rose to 9.8 and 10.1 million tonnes respectively. However, the 2016 level is still lower than in 2008 (10.2 million tonnes), the year when the financial and economic crisis started. The amount of EEE put on the market rose by 2.9 % from 2015 to 2016 and by 6.8 % over the observed period 2010-2016.
Electrical and electronic equipment put on the market by country
Figure 2 shows the composition of EEE put on the market by product category, reflecting the consumption pattern in the countries shown in the graph.
Large household appliances (category 1) is the dominant product category in all EU countries. Its proportion of total EEE put on the market ranges between 42.1 % in Luxembourg and 71.4 % in Bulgaria. IT and telecommunication equipment (category 3) is the second largest product category in most countries, accounting for 4.8 % in Malta to 16.6 % in Austria and Luxembourg. Small household appliances (category 2) and Consumer equipment (category 4) rank third or fourth proportionally in most countries.
Medical devices (category 8), Monitoring and control equipment (category 9) and Automatic dispensers (category 10), which are summarised together in one category in the figure, account for only a small share of the total EEE put on the market. Together, these three categories account for less than 5 % of the total in 26 of the 28 countries. Only Malta (9 %) and Denmark (7.2 %) report higher figures for these agglomerated categories.
Collection of WEEE by country
Figure 3 shows the amount of WEEE collected by country in kg per inhabitant for the years 2008 and 2016. The figure illustrates both the level of separate collection in the countries and the progress made between 2008 and 2016. In 2016, the total amount of collected WEEE varied considerably across EU Member States, ranging from 1.6 kg per inhabitant in Romania to 16.5 kg per inhabitant in Sweden. Norway has maintained high WEEE collection rates of 19.6 kg per inhabitant, especially remarkable when comparing data on the sources of the waste (see Figure 5, especially ‘waste collected from other sources’). The considerable variation in the collected amounts reflects differences in EEE consumption levels as well as the different performance levels of existing waste collection schemes.
Table 1 shows the amount of WEEE collected by equipment category. Large household appliances account for approximately 2.5 million tonnes or 55.6 % of the total WEEE collected in 2016. IT and telecommunications equipment (14.8 %) and Consumer equipment and photovoltaic panels (13.5 %) are the second and third largest categories for WEEE collection in the EU, accounting for 668 513 tonnes and 609 934 tonnes respectively. Small household appliances contributed 408 050 tonnes or 9.0 % to WEEE collection. The remaining seven categories together (see ‘Other’) totalled about 325 254 tonnes or 7.2 % of WEEE collected in the EU in 2016.
The recast of the WEE Directive (2012/19/EU), which entered into force on 13 August 2012, introduces a stepped increase in the collection targets that will take effect in 2018 with reference year 2016 and in 2021 with reference year 2019. From reference year 2016 onwards, the annual collection target will be defined as the ratio between the collected amount and the average weight of EEE put on the market in the three preceding years. The collection target is set at 45 % for reference year 2016 (to be reported in 2018) and will rise to 65 % for reference year 2019 (to be reported in 2021). 
In Figure 4, WEEE collected in 2016 is shown as the share of the EEE put on the market. The share is calculated as the ratio of the amount of collected WEEE in 2016 in relation to the average amount of EEE put on the market in the three preceding years, 2013-2015. The figures indicate how much more WEEE the EU Member States need to collect to achieve the future collection targets of 45 % and 65 %, respectively.
According to the data, 18 EU Member States (Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Sweden, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Czechia, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Poland, France and Germany)) as well as Liechtenstein and Norway surpassed the 45 % target in 2016, while Spain, Lithuania, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, as well as Iceland, remained close to the 45 % target.
The high growth-rates for Bulgaria (107.3 %) were due to a campaign: many additional collection campaigns were organised in 2015 to provide the necessary amount of WEEE to fulfil the national target for the collection of EEE. These campaigns were organised as collection for a fee, providing direct remuneration or vouchers to citizens. In 2016, the share of WEEE collected decreased to 97 %. For the following years Bulgaria expects a normal rate again.
Figure 5 specifies the source of the separately collected amount of waste for countries in 2016 by showing the amount of WEEE that originated from households and the amount from sources other than households. The figure furthermore illustrates the relation between the amount of waste collected and the amount of WEEE that is potentially available for collection.
The amount of EEE put on the market in the three preceding years (2013-2015), which is reflected by the total height of the bars, is used to approximate the potential WEEE available for separate collection.
Households are the main source of WEEE in all countries. Significant rates of WEEE collection (over 1 kg per inhabitant) from sources other than from private households were reported in 2016 only by 6 Member States, Estonia (5.1 kg/inhabitant, equivalent to 51.6 % of total WEEE collected in Estonia), Italy (1.6 kg/inhabitant, 28.2 %), Sweden (2.5 kg/inhabitant, 15.1 %), Ireland (1.4 kg/inhabitant, 12.9%), Finland (1.3 kg/inhabitant, 11.4 %), Romania (1.5 kg/inhabitant, 50.0 % - 2014 data), as well as Norway (6.0 kg/inhabitant, 30.5 %) and Iceland (3.0 kg/inhabitant, 25.2 %).
Metadata from several countries indicate that the data coverage for WEEE from other sources is lower than for WEEE from households. Thus, WEEE collected from other sources is likely to be higher than reflected by the reported figures.
Source data for tables and graphs
Data on WEEE are reported by the Member Countries as laid down in Decision 2005/396/EC laying down rules for monitoring compliance of Member States and establishing data formats for the purposes of Directive 2012/19/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on waste electrical and electronic equipment.
Member States have the obligation to report to the Commission on the achievement of the targets for WEEE collection, re-use, recycling and / or recovery on the basis of Decision 2005/369/EC within 18 months of the end of the reference year. Regarding Liechtenstein it should be noted that due to unavailable data on imports from Switzerland, the reported amount 'put on the market' equals the amount 'collected from private households'.
The reported data become available in the Eurostat database approximately three months after the reporting deadline. Data are available from reference year 2005 to reference year 2016.
WEEE is a complex mixture of materials and components that — because of their hazardous content, and if not properly managed — can cause major environmental and health problems. Moreover, the production of modern electronics requires the use of scarce and expensive resources. To improve the environmental management of WEEE and to contribute to a circular economy and enhance resource efficiency, the improvement of collection, treatment and recycling of electronics at the end of their life is essential.
The management of WEEE is regulated by Directive 2012/0019/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).
The first WEEE Directive (Directive 2002/96/EC) entered into force in February 2003. The Directive provided for the creation of collection schemes where consumers return their WEEE free of charge. These schemes aim to increase the recycling of WEEE and/or re-use.
Directive 2002/96/EC was repealed on 15 February 2014 and was replaced by Directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), which introduces a stepped increase in collection targets that will take effect in 2016 and 2019. Furthermore, from 2018, the current scope of the Directive will be extended from its present restricted scope to all categories of EEE, and consequently the definition and number of the categories will change.
Annex I to Directive 2012/19/EU defines 10 categories of electrical and electronic equipment covered by the Directive:
- Large household appliances
- Small household appliances
- IT and telecommunications equipment
- Consumer equipment and photovoltaic panels
- Lighting equipment
- Electrical and electronic tools (with the exception of large-scale stationary industrial tools)
- Toys, leisure and sports equipment
- Medical devices (with the exception of all implanted and infected products)
- Monitoring and control instruments
- Automatic dispensers
Annex II contains an indicative list of products falling under the categories in Annex I.
- Waste, see:
- Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) (ESMS metadata file — env_waselee_esms)
- Country-specific notes on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)
- The collection rate for reference year 2019 may also be calculated on the basis of WEEE generated instead of on the average weight of EEE put on the market in the three preceding years. Member States will be able to choose which of these two equivalent ways to use to measure the target they wish to report