The waste hierarchy and Elretur

You can read about the waste hierarchy and what Elretur does to recycle and reuse here.

Waste prevention

The best possible solution for the environment is to completely avoid waste. Unfortunately, it is still not possible to avoid waste altogether. We therefore need to process electronic waste and other waste items through the other areas of the waste hierarchy.

Direct reuse

The next best step in the waste hierarchy is direct reuse. Direct reuse is when a product can be easily repaired or perhaps simply cleaned, thereby leaving the waste category and returning to the market as a usable product. At Elretur, we strive to increase the proportion of used electronics that are reused. Among other things, we do this through pilot projects with several municipalities, waste companies and repairers. We have also established an experience exchange forum for municipalities and waste companies that either already work towards reuse in the field of electronics or aspire to it. Through these initiatives, we can contribute to a well-functioning, competitive market for the reuse of electronic waste, which supports:

  • a circular economy to benefit the environment and the climate
  • consumer safety and a good consumer experience
  • a clear, uniform, stable framework for the relevant actors

Recycling

The next step in the waste hierarchy is recycling. By far the most electronic waste (WEEE) in Denmark is recycled. Our recycling rate across the various categories of electronic waste (WEEE categories) is 74%. Denmark either meets or exceeds the EU target for all categories. It is important to recycle electronic waste and spent batteries because, among other things, much of the waste contains metals. Many of these metals are rare and resource-intensive to extract through mining. For example, we save 87% CO2 when we recycle steel instead of extracting it. This benefits the climate, the environment and all of us. A number of metals are limited resources. If the metal ends up in the wrong waste stream and is incinerated with everything else, it cannot be recycled later. Therefore, the way we handle resources today has a major impact on our future. Elretur also works to ensure increased and improved recycling of electronic waste and spent batteries. We do this through ongoing dialogue with our waste operators and by running information campaigns to improve the collection and correct sorting of the waste. For example, did you see our battery campaign “F**** with your groundwater”? We will still have a great need to recycle in years to come, because even if we increase what is reused, old electronics products will eventually no longer be repairable.  At that point, it will become important to extract materials from the electronic waste.  Therefore, we must increase the proportion of direct reuse and, at the same time, take good care of our Danish recycling system.

Energy utilisation

Although some of the waste cannot be reused or recycled, we can still incinerate it and utilise the energy for heating and electricity.

Landfill

The last remnants of the waste cannot be recycled, reused or incinerated. It must be deposited at environmentally approved facilities. A very small proportion of electronic and battery waste (WEEE and BAT) from Denmark is sent to landfill.

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Om Elretur

About Elretur

Elretur is Denmark’s largest producer responsibility organisation, representing many different industries and types of companies.