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EU Ensures Proper Electronic Waste Disposal through Radio-Frequency Tracking

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Electronic WasteLess than 40% of the nine million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) that Europe produces is treated according to environmental and legal requirements.

If this waste is not disposed of safely and responsibly, hazardous substances can be emitted – including ozone depleting substances like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), greenhouse gases, and oils.

The new EU project WEEE TRACE (read: Full Traceability of the management of WEEE) plans to leverage communication and information technologies in the fight against illegal exportation and substandard treatment of WEEE, and it plans to do it by using radio-frequency (RF) tagging or image recognition.

Waste items will now have RF tags attached to them when they are picked up. This will allow the waste item to be tracked all the way to a treatment plant. Then, the tracking device can tell not only where the waste is, but how it is being managed. This provides much needed oversight to ensure the materials are properly recycled.

An advanced deployment of the system has been undertaken in Spain, and to date, 7000 tonnes of WEEE have been taken to the appropriate recycling facilities. Spain plans to reach the 12000 tonnes mark by the end of 2013.

10 kilos of waste per person are generated annually, and much of that waste contains hazardous substances that must be properly treated.

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