WEEEs: Employment Opportunities in Europe

Despite the crisis, the market for electrical and electronic equipment has continued to expand. As innovation cycles and/or obsolescence become shorter, their replacement is accelerating, turning these devices in a source of waste.

Within the European Union WEEEs are one of the wastes that have experienced higher growth in recent years. According to data from the European Commission, 9 millions tonnes were generated in 2005, and it is expected that exceeds 12 million tons in 2020. Representing an annual growth of 2,6%.

This complex situation requires proper management of waste generated. Failure to do so is not only an environmental problem (WEEEs are highly polluting waste and without proper management can cause serious damage to the environment and health of people), but also loss of resources that are scarce (in the production of such devices lot of metals are used, like mercury, cadmium or gold). So to improve environmental management and contribute to a circular economy, treatment and recycling of this type of equipment is essential.

The current legislative framework in the European area, reinforces this need. The Directive 2012/19/EU seeks to prevent the generation of these wastes, reduce their disposal and the danger of its components. Encouraging the reuse of equipment and recovery of waste and establishing a proper management to improve the effectiveness of environmental protection

Thus reuse has been established as a preferred method of management, be understood as prevention or as recovery of waste. It is also expected to generate a positive impact on local employment,since the potencial employability in those activities that is necessary a manual labour is high and proportional to the amount of materials that are managed.

Some reports (such “ Resource conservation challenge: campaigning against waste”) estimate that, 36 jobs will be generated if the waste is recycled and up to 296 if the waste is recovered and reused  for every 10,000 tons of waste.

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