Giving E-Waste Plastics Recycling a Chance

Introducing PolyCE

By 2030, the demand of approximately 3 billion uprising middle-class consumers will put enormous pressure on our planet. The World Bank foresees that municipal solid waste will double by 2025. In addition, access to resources will be reduced and, consequently, price levels will rise to unexpected heights.

The UN University estimates that 42 million tonnes of e-waste, with a value of EUR 48 billion, has left the global economy in 2014, but only 15 percent — or 6.5 million tonnes — was formally collected and treated.

There have been numerous individual efforts to improve the collection and recycling of plastics in e-waste, but so far none have provided a harmonized approach towards a functioning circular model.

According to the European Commission, waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) such as computers, TV-sets, fridges, and cell phones (e-waste) is one the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, with some 9 million tonnes generated in 2005, and is expected to grow to more than 12 million tonnes by 2020.

A new European Commission Horizon 2020 — funded project called PolyCE aims to significantly reduce the use of virgin e-waste plastics in new applications, and enhance their recyclability. Through collaboration with various actors in the field, including businesses, policy makers, NGOs, and consumers, PolyCE is set to demonstrate the feasibility of a circular model for the plastics supply and value chain. The project kicked off in Berlin at the end of July 2017, and will last for the next four years. It consist of 20 European expert organizations, coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute in Berlin.

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The PolyCE team