Sustainability Report 2017

The recycling situation in Sweden does not reflect the situation in the rest of the world. Globally, every year some 40 million tonnes of electric and electronic waste ends up being handled outside an official recycling system. Some of this waste is probably handled in a good, environmentally sound manner but there is also evidence that this is by no means always the case. Some obvious examples of this are informal recycling sectors, illegal trading and countries lacking the necessary legislation.

At present, there are only 41 countries in the world with laws relating specifically to electric and electronic waste. However, the number is going up. At El-Kretsen, we have notice an increased interest from all over the world in how we in Sweden work with these issues. Maybe our best chance of supporting our future environment is by spreading the “know-how” we have gained from working with our recycling system, even though it is small in a global context. Our wish is to contribute to countries with much larger volumes than Sweden so that they can make palpable environmental gains once producer responsibility and a more controlled recycling process has come into place.

Seeing the capacity for change is much more easily done when you have a grasp of what things look like today. But how does anyone get that grasp when dealing with an issue which is largely unregulated and where the statistical reporting is lacking? The United Nations University (UNU), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) took it upon themselves to improve the situation and have now published the report “The Global E-Waste Monitor 2017”. This is the most conclusive report of its kind to date and it provides detailed and extensive information. The aim of the report was to provide information on flows, volumes and trends in order to make it easier to apply the correct measures for moving towards sustainability.

Looking at our own business, we are continuing our journey towards more circular flows. In 2017, 134 187 tonnes of materials were collected and are right now in the process of being turned into new products. From a life-cycle perspective, we know that carbon dioxide emissions are small during the recycling phase. Sometimes as low as 1 percent of the product’s total carbon dioxide emissions. The production phase, however, accounts for often up to 80 percent. Naturally, there are also other aspects to take into account, but this is reason enough in itself for us to make sure that we reuse recycled materials to as large an extent as possible. It is an effective way to reduce a product’s total carbon dioxide emissions. Together with our partners, our task is to collect, sort and allocate the recycled materials so that they can be recycled for reuse. At the moment, our work does not reflect the situation in the rest of the world – but we are working towards that!

Published 2021-02-17