Development and transition of WEEE processing sector towards circular economy 3.0
Westing, M.F.M. van
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One of the largest sources of waste in the 21st century originates from the disposal of Information Communication Technology (ICT) products (European Commision, 2016). In the Netherlands, the WEEE sector already reaches a 53% circularity thanks to well organized waste recycle system and the extended producer responsibility approach (Huisman, et al. 2012). Though these numbers are promising, recycling should be one of the last value retention steps in the lifecycle of a product (Reike, et al., 2018). The little amount of attention from producers combined with lacking incentives for increasing electronics sustainability, results in mounting concerns for the future sustainability of ICT products (Manomaivibool, 2009). To improve the sustainability of ICT products and reach ambitions of complete circularity in the year 2050 in the Netherlands, additional of value retention options need to be taken into consideration in accordance with Circular Economy (CE) 3.0 (Reike, et al., 2018). This master thesis focuses on development and transition of the sector processing waste from electric and electronic equipment (WEEE) towards the ambitions of CE 3.0. The methods applied by the companies in the WEEE processing sector are explored and the extend of a current ongoing transition is analysed. To support analysis of these dynamics in the sector the research also expands on the corporate sustainability (CS) management of the companies. This research has come forwards with the following key findings. In the WEEE processing sector there is an emphasis on processing large volumes of WEEE through mechanical treatment processes as this method of recycling is most cost-effective. In addition, large scale mechanical processing is better supported to develop in comparison to manual processing of WEEE. This is especially of interest as manual processing of WEEE has been found to be further along with integrating the ambitions of CE 3.0. The CS maturity of the WEEE processing companies indicates a need for clear and long-term objectives by the companies to successfully transition and commit development towards CE 3.0.