E-waste tops the sustainability agenda and is one of the recurring talking points when addressing the circular economy. We recently hosted an online seminar on e-waste and invited a group of experts to talk about the issue. To follow-up on the questions received, we decided to let the experts answer your questions in this blog series.

Pascal Leroy, Director General at WEEE Forum, answers questions asked during our webinar How to reverse the growing negative trend of e-waste.

Is it possible to recycle raw minerals and put them into new products?

Yes, that’s the very definition of ‘recycling’. On a more sophisticated level, a distinction is sometimes made between ‘closed loop’ recycling and ‘open loop’ recycling, referring to whether or not the waste of one product is used in making the same type of products.

When will recycled metals be cheaper than new and which materials have the highest financial value to recycle?

That depends a great deal on the value of those raw materials on the metal exchange. Commodity prices for many raw materials are currently down, which is a disincentive for recycling. Gold is an exception. One reason why virgin materials are cheaper than recycled materials can be associated with the failure to account for externalities, i.e. impact on the environment.

How is sensitive data handled in the recycling process? Is there anything users should do before handing e-waste into a recycling facility?

Responsible recyclers in Europe take appropriate measures to avoid misuse of private or proprietary data. International standards regulate this activity.

More e-waste is generated than we take care of. What is the reason for