Statistics Explained

Waste statistics - electrical and electronic equipment

Data from: November 2022

Planned update: November 2023

Highlights

In 2020, 10.3 kg of electrical and electronic equipment waste were collected per inhabitant in the EU.
In 2020, Bulgaria, Croatia and Finland achieved the 65 % target for collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment. Slovakia, Poland, Estonia, Austria and Ireland also came close to reaching this target.
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Waste electrical and electronic equipment collected in 2020

This article provides an overview on processed amounts of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in the European Union (EU) and in the EFTA countries. It is based on data collected within the framework of Directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE Directive).

The objective of the WEEE Directive is to promote collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment and recovery, recycling and preparation for reuse of this waste, in order to reduce the quantity disposed. In 2020, the collection rate of WEEE in the European Union was 45.9 % (measured as the weight of WEEE collected relative to the average weight of electronic equipment put on the market in the three preceding years, i.e. 2017-2019).


Full article


Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) put on the market and WEEE processed in the EU

Figure 1 shows the trends in the amount of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) put on the market and in WEEE collected, treated, recovered, recycled and prepared for reuse in the EU in the years from 2012 to 2020. Missing data for some EU Member States have been estimated in order to show the developments for the EU as a whole. Information on the lifespan of EEE products from the year they are put on the market to the year when they become waste is currently not available in the data collected for monitoring the WEEE collection target. This collection target changed in connection with the revised monitoring introduced from the reference year 2016 onwards (see the Context section below for more details).

The amount of electrical and electronic equipment put on the market in the EU evolved from 7.6 million tonnes in 2012 to a peak of 12.4 million tonnes in 2020. Within this period, the lowest level was recorded in 2013, with 7.3 million tonnes. Over the period 2012-2020 as a whole, the amount of EEE put on the market grew by 62.2 %. The total collected WEEE increased from 3.0 to 4.7 million tonnes (+57.8 %), while the total treated WEEE grew from 3.1 to 4.6 million tonnes (+49.1 %). Recovered WEEE developed from 2.6 to 4.3 million tonnes (+65.1 %), and WEEE recycled and prepared for reuse grew from 2.4 to 3.9 million tonnes (+61.7 %) from 2012 to 2020.

Figure 1: Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) put on the market and waste EEE collected, treated, recovered, recycled and prepared for reuse, EU, 2012–2020
(thousand tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (env_waseleeos) and Eurostat (env_waselee)

Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) put on the market and WEEE collected by country

The recast of the WEEE Directive (2012/19/EU), which entered into force on 13 August 2012, introduced an increase in the collection targets step by step, taking effect from reference years 2016 and 2019, respectively. From 2016 onwards, the annual collection target for WEEE is defined as the ratio between the amount of WEEE collected in the reference year and the average weight of EEE put on the market in the three preceding years. The collection target was set at 45 % from 2016, rising to 65 % from 2019 onwards. [1] However, according to the derogation set out in Article 7 Point 3 of the WEEE Directive, the following EU Member States could decide to postpone the achievement of the collection target until 14 August 2021: Bulgaria, Czechia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia.

In Figure 2a, WEEE collected 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 2020 in relation to the average amount of EEE put on the market in the three preceding years, i.e. 2017-2019. These ratios provide an overview of the EU Member States collection performance towards the collection targets of 45 % and 65 %, respectively.

In 2020, 15 EU Member States surpassed the 45 % WEEE collection target. In addition, seven more reported rates in the range 40.1 % to 44.3 %.

Three EU Member States achieved the more ambitious target of a 65 % collection rate in 2020, with another five coming close with rates from 60.4 % to 62.4 %.

Figure 2b shows the collection rate calculated as the amount of collected WEEE in relation to the amount of generated WEEE in the same year: only two EU Member States, Luxembourg and Hungary, have chosen this methodology to calculate the collection rate. For this calculation method, the WEEE Directive sets a collection target of 85 % from reference year 2019 onwards.

Figure 2a: Total collection rate for waste electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), 2020
(% of the average weight of EEE put on the market in the three preceding years (2017-2019))
Source: Eurostat (env_waseleeos) and Eurostat (env_waselee)

Figure 2b: Total collection rate for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) as a share of generated WEEE, 2020
(% of the weight of WEEE generated in the same year)
Source: Eurostat (env_waseleeos)


Figure 3 shows the amount of WEEE collected in 2020, in comparison with the EEE put on the market in the three preceding years (2017-2019) and the WEEE generated in 2020, respectively. These are all expressed in kilograms per inhabitant (based on the average number of inhabitants in 2020). In the EU, the WEEE collected in 2020 was estimated at 10.3 kilograms per inhabitant, while the average EEE put on the market over the period 2017-2019 was estimated at 22.6 kilograms per inhabitant. The variation in the collected amounts reflects differences in EEE consumption level between countries, as well as differences in the performance of their respective waste collection schemes.

For reference year 2020, due to the transition from the previous methodology that used 10 product categories for EEE to the new methodology using 6 product categories, countries have calculated the collection rate based on the average weight of EEE placed on the market in the three preceding years by estimating the amounts for 2017-2019 according to the new methodology (these amounts are not published). The average of the three preceding years according to the 6 categories methodology has been calculated as WEEE collected divided by WEEE collection rate. (See the 'Context' section for more details on the EEE product categories.)

Figure 3: Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) put on the market in the three preceding years (2017-2019), waste EEE generated in 2020 and waste EEE collected in 2020
(kilograms per inhabitant)
Source: Eurostat (env_waseleeos) and Eurostat (env_waselee)

Data sources

Data on WEEE are reported by the EU Member States according to Decision 2005/396/EC laying down rules for monitoring compliance of EU 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 (WEEE Directive).

EU Member States have the obligation to report to the Commission within 18 months of the end of the reference year on the achievement of the targets for WEEE collection, reuse, recycling and / or recovery on the basis of Decision 2005/369/EC. This Commission Decision remained valid after Directive 2002/96/EC was repealed and replaced by Directive 2012/19/EU (article 25).

The reported data become available in the Eurostat database approximately three months after the reporting deadline. Data are available from reference year 2005 onwards.

Context

Unless properly managed, materials and components arising from waste electrical and electronic equipment can cause major environmental and health problems due to hazardous content. Moreover, production of modern electrical and electronic equipment requires the use of rare and expensive resources. The amelioration of collection, treatment and recycling of WEEE is essential to improve its environmental management, its contribution to a circular economy and enhance resource recycling efficiency.

The management of WEEE is regulated by Directive 2012/19/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE Directive).

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 and / or re-use of WEEE.

Directive 2002/96/EC was repealed on 15 February 2014 and replaced by Directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment, which introduced a stepped increase in collection targets with effect from reference years 2016 and 2019, respectively. Furthermore, from 15 August 2018 onwards, the scope of the WEEE Directive was extended to all categories of EEE (excluding EEE described in paragraphs 3 and 4 of Article 2 of Directive 2012/19/EU). Consequently, the definition and number of the categories is different and the reporting obligation applies as described here below:

(a) until reference year 2018, to EEE falling within the 10 product categories set out in Annex I to Directive 2012/19/EU :

  1. Large household appliances
  2. Small household appliances
  3. IT and telecommunications equipment
  4. Consumer equipment and photovoltaic panels
  5. Lighting equipment
  6. Electrical and electronic tools (with the exception of large-scale stationary industrial tools)
  7. Toys, leisure and sports equipment
  8. Medical devices (with the exception of all implanted and infected products)
  9. Monitoring and control instruments
  10. Automatic dispensers

Annex II contains an indicative list of products falling under the categories in Annex I.

(b) from reference year 2019 onwards, all EEE shall be classified within 6 product categories set out in Annex III as classified here below, with exclusion of the EEE described in paragraphs 3 and 4 of article 2 of Directive 2012/19/EU

  1. Temperature exchange equipment
  2. Screens, monitors and equipment containing screens having a surface greater than 100 cm2
  3. Lamps
  4. Large equipment (any external dimension more than 50 cm) including, but not limited to: Household appliances; IT and telecommunication equipment; consumer equipment; luminaires; equipment reproducing sound or images, musical equipment; electrical and electronic tools; toys, leisure and sports equipment; medical devices; monitoring and control instruments; automatic dispensers; equipment for the generation of electric currents. This category does not include equipment included in categories 1 to 3.
  5. Small equipment (no external dimension more than 50 cm) including, but not limited to: Household appliances; consumer equipment; luminaires; equipment reproducing sound or images, musical equipment; electrical and electronic tools; toys, leisure and sports equipment; medical devices; monitoring and control instruments; automatic dispensers; equipment for the generation of electric currents. This category does not include equipment included in categories 1 to 3 and 6.
  6. Small IT and telecommunication equipment (no external dimension more than 50 cm)

Annex IV contains a non-exhaustive list of EEE which falls within the categories set out in Annex III (open scope).

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Notes

  1. From reference year 2019 onwards, the collection rate may also be calculated on the basis of WEEE generated in the same year, instead of on the average weight of EEE put on the market in the three preceding years. The EU Member States choose which of these two methods shall be applied for assessing progress towards and achievement of the collection rate target. For 2020, only Luxembourg and Hungary have chosen to calculate the collection rate on the basis of WEEE generated in the same year. This calculation methodology is defined in Annex II of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/699 as the sum, for each EEE product category, of the amount of EEE placed on the market and the estimation of the lifespan of the corresponding products. For countries applying this methodology, the collection target is set at 85 % from 2019 onwards.