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The presence of rare earth elements and critical metals in waste electric and electronic equipment: challenges for recovery

Paper Topic: 
CEST2017 - Electric and electronic waste

Pages :
773 - 777

Corresponing Author: 
Sikander A.
Sikander A., Savvilotidou V., Jia X., Nicomel N.
Paper ID: 
Paper Status: 
Date Paper Accepted: 
Paper online: 

The fastest growing waste stream of waste electric and electronic equipment (WEEE) is not only a threat to our environment, but is also creating a supply risk of certain rare earth metals (REMs) and critical metals (CMs). Despite the fact that Directive 2012/19/EU encourages the prevention of WEEE by promoting re-use, recycling and other forms of recovery of such wastes, the recycling of these metals in WEEE is less than 1%. The insufficient data about the composition of REMs and CMs in electric and electronic equipment (EEE), the high recycling costs and the different motivations/interests of the stakeholders, including national authorities, non-profit companies and producers, are some of the main inhibitor factors. However, there is a growing interest in the scientific community in sorting out the issues which leads to such a low recovery and in defining the challenges and possible benefits generated from the recycling of REMs and CMs. On this basis, this work highlights the characteristics of REMs and CMs in terms of their economic importance and their presence in EEE. Then, an overview of the supply risk of REMs and CMs and the challenges related to the recovery are provided, supported by countries examples.

WEEE recycling, Supply risks, criticality risks, collection systems, losses of metals