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Evaluating the carbon footprint of WEEE management in the UK

Evaluating the carbon footprint of WEEE management in the UK
Evaluating the carbon footprint of WEEE management in the UK
The UK produces an estimated 2 Mt of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) annually and the management of this waste has become a foremost environmental issue in the UK. Whilst the collection, transportation and treatment of WEEE contributes to climate change due to its considerable energy and material requirements, the effective recovery and reuse or recycling of WEEE can contribute towards a net climate benefit. Here, we present a combined material flow analysis and carbon footprint approach (based on a bespoke calculator tool) for quantifying the flows of WEEE through a national waste management system and evaluating their potential climate impacts. We apply this approach to analyse the WEEE management system for the UK from 2010-2030 using prospective scenario analysis and assess the carbon footprint of their management pathways. Reuse was identified as the most favourable end-of-life management option in terms of potential climate impact, followed by recycling, with landfill identified as being the least favourable option. Overall, current end-of-life management practices for WEEE in the UK were found to result in a net positive (i.e. beneficial) climatic effect, although this saving was found to reduce when WEEE recycled as non-obligated WEEE was not included. Overall, we recommend that future national policies should focus on formalising indirect WEEE collection pathways to help increase overall collection rates and, thus, reuse and recycling activities.
Waste electronic and electrical equipment, carbon footprint, material flow analysis, waste management
0921-3449
465-473
Clarke, Christopher
668481d6-70cf-4a23-87d3-581bda53ba46
Williams, Ian
c9d674ac-ee69-4937-ab43-17e716266e22
Turner, David A.
0542a602-16ce-4aa8-9ca4-9e8d2c72d3c5
Clarke, Christopher
668481d6-70cf-4a23-87d3-581bda53ba46
Williams, Ian
c9d674ac-ee69-4937-ab43-17e716266e22
Turner, David A.
0542a602-16ce-4aa8-9ca4-9e8d2c72d3c5

Clarke, Christopher, Williams, Ian and Turner, David A. (2019) Evaluating the carbon footprint of WEEE management in the UK. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 141, 465-473. (doi:10.1016/j.resconrec.2018.10.003).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The UK produces an estimated 2 Mt of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) annually and the management of this waste has become a foremost environmental issue in the UK. Whilst the collection, transportation and treatment of WEEE contributes to climate change due to its considerable energy and material requirements, the effective recovery and reuse or recycling of WEEE can contribute towards a net climate benefit. Here, we present a combined material flow analysis and carbon footprint approach (based on a bespoke calculator tool) for quantifying the flows of WEEE through a national waste management system and evaluating their potential climate impacts. We apply this approach to analyse the WEEE management system for the UK from 2010-2030 using prospective scenario analysis and assess the carbon footprint of their management pathways. Reuse was identified as the most favourable end-of-life management option in terms of potential climate impact, followed by recycling, with landfill identified as being the least favourable option. Overall, current end-of-life management practices for WEEE in the UK were found to result in a net positive (i.e. beneficial) climatic effect, although this saving was found to reduce when WEEE recycled as non-obligated WEEE was not included. Overall, we recommend that future national policies should focus on formalising indirect WEEE collection pathways to help increase overall collection rates and, thus, reuse and recycling activities.

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Clarke et al. Manuscript (revised) - Author's Original
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 2 October 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 18 November 2018
Published date: February 2019
Keywords: Waste electronic and electrical equipment, carbon footprint, material flow analysis, waste management

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 428992
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/428992
ISSN: 0921-3449
PURE UUID: 4661a1f8-fa8f-4f37-819e-ee33ff124831
ORCID for Ian Williams: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-0121-1219

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 15 Mar 2019 17:30
Last modified: 15 Aug 2019 00:44

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Contributors

Author: Christopher Clarke
Author: Ian Williams ORCID iD
Author: David A. Turner

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