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Demonstration of a re-use process of WEEE addressed to propose regulatory policies in accordance to EU law

Reference: LIFE11 ENV/ES/000574 | Acronym: ECORAEE



The quantity of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) being generated in the EU is growing at more than three times the rate of solid waste being generated. According to 2008 Eurostat data, 4% of all waste generated in the EU is now WEEE. These devices pose an environmental hazard because of their components of metals, plastics and glass. Particularly toxic components include the heavy metals lead, mercury and cadmium, as well as selenium and arsenic. Inadequate management and treatment processes when electrical and electronic appliances become waste create risks of significant amounts of toxins being released to the air, soil and water, particularly when potentially dangerous compounds are melted. One of the most significant management challenges for preventing this is adequate collection. More than 85% of WEEE is estimated to be non-selectively collected. This meant in 2005 that 3.4 million tonnes of WEEE was thought to be inappropriately treated. By 2020, this is expected to increase to at least 4.3 million tonnes. The 2002 European WEEE Directive (2002/96/EC) set collection, recycling and recovery targets for all types of electrical goods. However, collection of WEEE is not working as effectively as intended. Still only 33% is officially reported as ‘subject to collection’. This has led to efforts to review the Directive amid concerns about the scope of its ambition and costs of collection.


The 'ECORAEE' project intends to show that reusability is a way to solve the problem of WEEE in an economic, technical and environmentally feasible way. It thus hopes to provide a good option for overcoming some of the barriers that exist to successfully achieving the objectives of the WEEE Directive. The project consortium is made up of three types of key player: a university (University of Vigo), a company specialising in waste management (REVERTIA) and an innovation centre in the region (Galicia, Spain) where the project will be implemented (ENERGYLAB). Together they intend to work on the characterisation and demonstration of an industrial process of preparing WEEE for re-use. The project will characterise and compare the environmental impact of different finishing processes of WEEE. It will then define a process of preparing WEEE for re-use and identify the resources needed to implement this in practice. It plans to conduct four demonstrations of the process of preparing computer equipment for re-use to analyse the feasibility of the process. The consortium plans to assess the need for new standards and regulation to support transposition of the WEEE Directive. It hopes to define mandatory requirements for re-use preparation. To support the establishment of auditable standards it also hopes to confirm a single calculation method and accompanying documentation on the lifecycle assessment (LCA) of WEEE.

Expected results

  • Development of protocols and a business plan for the process of re-use of WEEE;
  • Defined parameters to characterise the environmental and economic impact of the process of preparing computers for re-use;
  • Demonstrated technical and economic feasibility of WEEE re-use preparation actions;
  • Demonstrated scalability of the process of preparing WEEE for re-use;
  • Promotion of new regulatory standards for WEEE re-use, based on this new best available technology;
  • Eventual improved implementation of the European WEEE Directive; and Raised awareness amongst stakeholders on the preference for reusing rather than recycling WEEE.


    Reference: LIFE11 ENV/ES/000574
    Acronym: ECORAEE
    Start Date: 02/07/2012
    End Date: 30/06/2015
    Total Budget: 1,269,155 €
    EU Contribution: 622,038 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Universidad de Vigo
    Legal Status: PAT
    Address: CAMPUS AS LAGOAS MARCOSENDE, 36310, Vigo, España
    Contact Person: Jose Antonio Vilán
    Tel: 986 813 780

    LIFE Project Map



    • Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)


    • waste recycling
    • electronic material


    Name Type
    Universidad de Vigo Coordinator
    Energylab, Spain Participant
    Revertia Reusing and Recycling S.L., Spain Participant