e-waste recycling sector reinforces its position as a creator of socioeconomic value in the green economy

Recyclia’s 2nd Annual Report on trends in the waste electronic equipment and battery management industry in Spain shows that the e-waste recycling sector is strengthening its position as a creator of socioeconomic value in the green economy. The sector creates value to the tune of 1,100 million euros, employs 19,000 people and contributes 176 million to the State coffers, placing our country ahead of others with a longer tradition in this area, such as France, Germany, Italy and Denmark.

Spain meets targets

The report provides a global analysis of 2018 WEEE and battery management figures, which are the latest available for Spain. In that year, 320,000 tonnes of WEEE was managed in Spain, up 11.6% on 2017. This is the equivalent of 51% of the weight of electronic equipment placed on the market, thus exceeding the mandatory collection target of 45% set by the European Union. This recovery rate puts Spain ahead of countries such as Italy (39%), Germany (43%) and France (46%) and significantly exceeds the European average (47%). Furthermore, Spain managed to recycle 44% of this waste (recovery of materials for reinsertion into the production cycle and non-polluting disposal of unrecoverable materials), which is also above the European average (38%) and puts Spain ahead of France (34%), Denmark (36%) and Germany (37%).

With respect to batteries and accumulators, the report shows that practically all of this waste is collected and treated in Spain, with 240,000 tonnes being managed in 2018.

The impact of the pandemic

The Recyclia study also analyses the impact of the pandemic on the electronics and batteries market in 2020. 747 million devices, the equivalent of 1,042,000 tonnes in weight, were sold last year, 1.8% up on the previous year.

The report also shows that the quantity of household devices placed on the market grew by 5.4%, driven by the increase in teleworking and home entertainment. Particularly noteworthy is the strong upturn in the sale of monitors and screens (+27.4%), as well as small IT and telecommunications devices (+24.2%). In contrast, the demand for professional devices decreased by 9.5% compared to 2019, mainly due to lower business activity and the widespread closure of offices. Professional devices accounted for 21.6% of the total number of devices put on the market last year, 2.7% less than in 2019.

In addition, manufacturers placed 607 million batteries, with a total weight of 15,000 tonnes, on the market, up 4.1% in terms of units and 10% in terms of weight on 2019.