Handling WEEE waste flows: On the effectiveness of producer responsibility in a globalizing world

B.C.J. Zoeteman, H.R. Krikke, J. Venselaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)
578 Downloads (Pure)


This paper explores the present and future magnitude of global waste of electrical and electronic equipment flows, and investigates desirable changes in these flows from a sustainable development point of view. Quantitative estimates of present and future e-waste flows between global regions, generating, and processing waste are presented and their driving forces are analyzed. Global e-waste production by households exceeded an annual amount of 20 million tons in 2005. Domestic e-waste generation in China has already climbed dramatically, now equalling the amount generated in Japan. China is second in the world after the USA in landfilling and incineration of ewaste residues. Absolute volumes of recycled e-waste are largest in the EU, followed by Japan. After a period characterized by national disposal practices, a period of global low-level recovery practices has emerged. The paper analyzes exogenous factors, including legislating promoting extended producer responsibility, which are favoring as a next step regionalizing of (reverse) supply chains. Examples on a business level are discussed and critical success factors for applying regional high-level recovery are identified. The analysis shows that in the coming decades, two options will compete on a global scale: (1) a further expansion of the present low-level recovery system of ewaste recycling, and (2) a regional approach with higher level recovery applications. The authors argue that putting businesses, more specifically, the original equipment manufacturers, instead of legislators in the driver seat, will strengthen the opportunities for high-level recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-436
JournalInternational Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology
Issue number5-8
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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