Sustainable Management of E-waste in Greece (Sumanewag)
Sustainable Management of E-waste in Greece
Start date: Nov 1, 2001,
End date: Nov 1, 2003
In many countries, including Greece, the total amount of waste produced from electronic and electrical equipment is not only considerable, but is increasing on an annual basis, as various equipments become obsolete for the user (even though the product may be salvaged for parts but, can in many cases be repaired and re-used). Furthermore, WEEE (waste of electronic and electrical equipment) often contains hazardous and toxic materials. These end up in the regular waste stream, contributing to and exacerbating the negative environmental effects of solid wastes.
In Greece, almost 100% of WEEE ends up in the regular waste stream as there is very little information and awareness raising available on the issue of WEEE. It is often illegally incinerated or disposed of in unauthorized landfills. This in turn, causes a number of other problems due to the different toxic materials that seep into the ground through landfills and that are released into the atmosphere by incineration.
Producers and manufacturers do not take-on any responsibility for EEE at the end of its life cycle or the waste it produces in this country. Furthermore, no economic data exists on extending the EEE life cycle through repair, re-use or recycling of WEEE.
At the time of the implementation of the project relevant EU and Greek legislation was being introduced in the area (Greek legislation for Alternative Management for Waste Packaging and other products and the European WEEE Directive).
The project included the promotion of policy actions, technical know-how and legislation at a local, regional and national scale related to the sustainable management of used electronic equipment.
Other aims included:
- to establish plans and proposals for the implementation of regulations, agreements, administrative and financial tools and the training of staff for the reduction of WEEE;
- the elimination of barriers for the collection and handling of used electrical equipment, primarily computers;
- to prevent and reduce the amount of waste produced by the various ÎÎÎ at the end of their life cycle and prolong their life cycle through a separate collection and re-use system and;
-to contribute to the treatment and the neutralization of hazardous and toxic waste found in ÎÎÎ.
The expected results included:
- Preventing and reducing the volume of waste produced by WEEE;
- Exploring the framework for establishing a network system for the collection, redistribution, re-use and recycling of EEE;
- Development of policies and actions for the harmonization of the European Directive into national legislation as well as the implementation of regulation agreements, financial tools and training required at the national and local levels;
- Production of a database and an economic impact study on information pertaining to WEEE, in Greece;
- Establishment of a code of good practices for WEEE;
- Exchange of knowledge and experience at the national and European level
â Public Awareness and production of dissemination materials.
The project achieved all of the aforementioned objectives. With regard to the reduction of the volume of waste produced by WEEE in particular, more than 73 tons of WEEE were diverted from the waste stream. Thus, this pilot project managed in an environmentally sound way to reach 2.3-2.8% of the proportional target for the treatment of computer equipment set for Greece by 2006.
In more detail:
1. A separate collection system (with the use of a van) was established for computer equipment and peripherals from homes, companies and offices in the area of Attica. Computer equipment was taken to a workshop / repair facility where the various components were examined and categorized as re-usable, recyclable or unsalvageable. The re-usable computers and components were repaired. The computers had the data removed from their hard drive. These were then sold to interested parties. The discarded components and materials were handled carefully due to the possible existence of toxic materials. They were stripped and, after salvaging all possible re-usable materials, recycled. As no such information existed, the project also included the creation of a database for the gathering and analysis of information relating to the running of the pilot project. It provided information regarding the type of EEE collected as well as data on whether each component was sent for re-use, recycling or disposal, if and what type of repair/treatment it required, and the average life-span of the equipment.
2. A forum for discussion on the formulation of proposals and voluntary agreements for the creation and development of a permanent collection and recovery program for used electronic devices was also established. This included the active participation of national and local authorities as well as producers, manufacturers, and dealers, large-scale users (banks, telecommunication companies etc) and moved towards establishing a mechanism to make producers and manufacturers more responsible. The international partners trained the technical staff in their respective fields of expertise (treatment of toxic and hazardous material in WEEE, repairing collected EEE for re-use). It introduced a set of proposals for policies, actions, legislation, financial tools, and training programs with regard to the safe and environmentally sound handling of WEEE. In addition, it supported and facilitated the formulation of proposals for the removal of obstacles for the creation of a network that reduces WEEE and helped establish a system for the collection, re-use and recycling of EEE.
3. Moreover, an economic impact study on the sustainable management of e-waste in Greece was produced along with a database which included information on the recovered WEEE, and a code of good practices.
4. A public awareness campaign (including articles in the daily press, press conferences, a telephone help line the publishing and distribution of a special edition of the ERSâ quarterly magazine Garbage & Recycling, posters and information leaflets, etc.) was launched to raise awareness and encourage the public's participation in the project.
Dissemination activities were realized through the production of a CD-Rom, Web site, audio-visual documentary, one edition of the ERSâs magazine Garbage & Recycling, press conferences, distribution of reports, final conference, and three leaflets concerning the Codes of Good Practices for employers, employees and large and small scale users of WEEE.
The project was the first of its kind in Greece. Sustainable WEEE management had not been applied before; therefore, no data existed before the project. Other innovative aspects of the project were: the re-use of the repaired EEE; the research and development that was done with the Polytechnic University of Athens regarding the potential use of the reusable / recycled computers to build a network which could be used in the computer labs of elementary schools. This last action was not originally planned in the proposal.
The projectâs demonstration value was very significant as it provided very valuable information for the formulation and economic sustainability of a system of alternative management of WEEE in Greece, at a very appropriate timing.
The workshop is still operational and it was envisaged to continue the activities in collaboration with the Municipality of Nea Smyrni until the necessary infrastructure was developed on a national scale. Further involvement in the national system for the alternative management of WEEE is also planned when the system is set up.
According to the experience of the pilot project and the projectâs calculations, it is expected that between 200 and 500 new positions will be created when the national alternative WEEE management system is established. (A more precise indication cannot be provided until the exact format of the system to evolve is decided.)
This project was considered a success story.
. A follow up interview, carried out in late 2004 by the LIFE external monitoring team, reported that the E-waste forum continues to function informally. The beneficiary continues to ensure interested parties are updated on the new legislation and the responsibilities and rights of the concerned parties. The beneficiary will re-assess the role of the forum when the proposed recycling system for electric and electronic waste becomes fully functional in Greece. See: www.ecorec.gr/.
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