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Keywords:

  • electronic scrap;
  • e-waste;
  • extended producer responsibility (EPR);
  • industrial ecology;
  • recycling;
  • waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE)

Summary

Business-to-business (B2B) electronics account for a significant volume of the electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) put on the market. Very little B2B waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is reported as collected in the European Union (EU) in compliance with the WEEE Directive, which uses the policy principle of extended producer responsibility (EPR) to ensure that WEEE is managed correctly. This presents a barrier to parties looking for access to the waste. Company practice dictates the channels into which B2B WEEE flows following primary use. This article presents a study that engaged with company actors directly to get a better understanding of business information technology (IT) EEE asset management. Data were collected to determine the barriers current practice could present to the collection of B2B IT EEE at end of life and the implications of these for the development of policies and strategies for EPR. A questionnaire was developed and data were gathered from organizations in three EU countries—the United Kingdom, Germany, and France—stratified by size.

 Some notable findings were that there are several routes by which end-of-life B2B WEEE can flow. The recycling and refurbishment of B2B IT units at end of use was shown to be commonplace, but it is likely that these units enter streams where they are not reported. The actors disposing of their units did not have information on the management or disposition of these streams. It is concluded that to achieve the goals of EPR for B2B IT WEEE, the networks and the operational practices of these streams need to be better understood when developing strategies and policies.