Handling WEEE waste flows: on the effectiveness of producer responsibility in a globalizing world

  • Bastiaan C. J. Zoeteman
  • Harold R. Krikke
  • Jan Venselaar
Open Access

DOI: 10.1007/s00170-009-2358-3

Cite this article as:
Zoeteman, B.C.J., Krikke, H.R. & Venselaar, J. Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2010) 47: 415. doi:10.1007/s00170-009-2358-3


This paper explores the present and future magnitude of global waste of electrical and electronic equipment flows, and investigates desirable changes in these flows from a sustainable development point of view. Quantitative estimates of present and future e-waste flows between global regions, generating, and processing waste are presented and their driving forces are analyzed. Global e-waste production by households exceeded an annual amount of 20 million tons in 2005. Domestic e-waste generation in China has already climbed dramatically, now equalling the amount generated in Japan. China is second in the world after the USA in landfilling and incineration of e-waste residues. Absolute volumes of recycled e-waste are largest in the EU, followed by Japan. After a period characterized by national disposal practices, a period of global low-level recovery practices has emerged. The paper analyzes exogenous factors, including legislating promoting extended producer responsibility, which are favoring as a next step regionalizing of (reverse) supply chains. Examples on a business level are discussed and critical success factors for applying regional high-level recovery are identified. The analysis shows that in the coming decades, two options will compete on a global scale: (1) a further expansion of the present low-level recovery system of e-waste recycling, and (2) a regional approach with higher level recovery applications. The authors argue that putting businesses, more specifically, the original equipment manufacturers, instead of legislators in the driver seat, will strengthen the opportunities for high-level recovery.


WEEE EPR Quantified global e-waste flows Globalization EU-policy effectiveness 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bastiaan C. J. Zoeteman
    • 1
  • Harold R. Krikke
    • 2
  • Jan Venselaar
    • 3
  1. 1.Telos, Faculty of Economics and Business AdministrationTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Faculty of Economics and Business AdministrationTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Avans Hogeschool University of Applied SciencesTilburgThe Netherlands

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