Critical metals in discarded electronics

Mapping recycling potentials from selected waste electronics in the Nordic region

image of Critical metals in discarded electronics

Recycling of waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) traditionally focuses on large quantities of waste materials such as plastics. However, some product groups in the WEEE contain hidden treasures in the form of critical metals. This project assesses the critical metals’ waste handling as part of five selected product groups, in the Nordic region. The environmental and economic benefits from the recycling of these metals currently and in the near future is quite substantial, mainly due to the presence of significant quantities of gold in the selected products. In order to contribute further to the circular economy concept, the Nordic countries should pay attention not only to quantitative but also to qualitative aspects of recycling, in order to capture recyclable materials that, although in small quantities, their recycling brings a high economic and environmental value.



Critical metals in the Nordic WEEE

Assessing the potential for recovery of the selected critical metals, the related environmental consequences and economic impacts, necessitates an estimate of the total arisings of these metals in the Nordic region, from the five product groups. This estimate is explored over the years 2015–2020 in order to show a forward-looking perspective and allow for policy planning.


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