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A comparative assessment of WEEE collection in an urban and rural context: Case study on desktop computers in Belgium

Gonda, Louise, D’Ans, Pierre, Degrez, Marc
Resources, conservation, and recycling 2019 v.142 pp. 131-142
business enterprises, case studies, computers, electronic wastes, households, infrastructure, material flow analysis, population density, rural areas, statistics, urban areas, waste management, Belgium
In order to comply with the targeted collection rates set by new European waste management regulations, a better knowledge of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) collection flows is needed. This paper highlights the importance of considering the regional spatial context to develop an appropriate waste collection strategy. Through material flow analysis, we compare the collection flows of end-of-life desktop computers in two neighbouring regions and link the differences of collection rates with spatial ones. The Brussels Capital Region (BCR), an urban area, and the Walloon Region (WR), a mixed urban-rural area with a predominance of rural areas, are chosen as case studies. The quantities and collection flows of end-of-life desktop computers are estimated by combining statistics and reporting data. Globally, in the WR, 70.99% of end-of-life desktop computers are collected in accordance with the WEEE Directive while only 32.98% are in the BCR. This difference may be related to spatial context. For instance, the high population density increases the built-up areas and limits space for waste collection infrastructures. As a consequence, in the BCR, only 22.29% of end-of-life desktop computers from households are captured by compliant collection channels against 84.80% in the WR. The collection from businesses still needs to be developed in both regions but also suffers from this lack of infrastructures. While the reliability assessment of our estimates emphasizes a lack of data regarding non-compliant collection channels, our results underline the need to take into account the regional spatial context in setting up the collection of WEEE.