EU project takes aim at plastic e-waste: Page 4 of 5

October 17, 2019 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
EU project takes aim at plastic e-waste
PolyCE, a European Commission-funded project supported by the United Nations is calling for consumers to demand electronic and electrical products made with recycled plastic, and for manufacturers to redesign products to both improve recyclability and integrate recycled plastics in new products, thus reducing e-waste.

Plastics, EEE (electronic and electrical equipment) and e-waste – the numbers


  • 322 million tonnes: global plastic production, 2015
  • 20-fold: increase in global plastic production since the 1960s (expected to double again over the next 20 years)
  • 20%: approximate percentage of plastic components in electronic and electrical equipment (EEE)
  • 20%: proportion of e-waste recycled globally through appropriate channels, 2016
  • 10%: average global rates of recovery and recycling for higher grade plastics from durable goods (compared to 50 to 90% average recovery and recycling rates for metals and glass)


Europe (EU, Norway, Switzerland)

  • 49 million tonnes: consumption of plastics in Europe, 2015 (comprised of packaging ~ 40%, building and construction 19.7%, automotive components 8.9%, electronics 5.8%)
  • 25.8 million tonnes: plastic waste generated in Europe every year
  • 59%: Share of plastic waste in the EU attributed to packaging, 2015 (compared with e-waste 8%, automotive 5%, agriculture, 5%, construction and demolition 5%, household waste other than packaging 4%, other waste, 14%
  • Under 30%: plastic waste collected for recycling, of which a significant share leaves the EU to be treated in third countries, where different environmental standards may apply
  • 12.3 million tonnes: total e-waste generation, Europe, 2016 (with a growth rate of 3-5 % expected by 2020)
  • 2.7 million tonnes: amount of plastic in electronic products put on the European market, 2015 (rising to an expected 3 million tonnes by 2020)
  • 2.5 million tonnes: expected amount of plastic in European e-waste, 2020 (up 2.5 times from the 1 million tonnes of plastic in e-waste, year 2000)
  • 16.6 kg: current average per capita e-waste generation, Europe
  • 31% (falling over the past decade): proportion of Europe's plastic waste that enters landfills
  • 39% (rising): proportion of Europe's plastic waste that is incinerated
  • Up to 3 tonnes: estimated amount of CO2 emissions avoided per tonne of plastic recycled
  • 80%: energy saved when plastic is recycled rather than manufacturing plastics from virgin materials
  • 20%: reduction of an EEE product's environmental impact if manufactured with recycled rather than virgin plastic
  • 80%: the degree to which product design decisions affect its environmental impact
  • 90%: the degree to which product design decisions affect its manufacturing cost

(Next PolyCE and partners)

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