The €2.1m project, called Critical Raw Material Closed Loop Recovery (‘CRM Recovery’), is a four-country collaboration, with the UK, Germany, Italy and Turkey all participating.

WRAP research has shown that nearly 40% of electrical products go to landfill when they are disposed, while the United Nations University claims that this annual mountain of e-waste contains 16,500 kilotons of iron, 1,900 kilotons of copper, and 300 tonnes of gold.

Over the course of the three and a half year project, CRM Recovery aims to increase the recovery of these precious materials and others by at least 5%.

The project will analyse how collection methods, such as kerbside collections, retailer take-back schemes or postal returns, affect how material components of electronic products are recovered and returned to the market.

Findings will be fed back to the European Commission in the form of policy recommendations and proposals for infrastructure development for the cost effective recovery of these precious and critical raw materials.

New insight

Dr Liz Goodwin, the CEO of WRAP, the project’s UK partner, said: “We’re delighted to lead this project which will find effective routes for collecting and recovering valuable materials from electrical and electronic products. I look forward to seeing how these new insights inform the bigger picture, demonstrating the economic and environmental benefits of making better use of resources across Europe”.

The €2.1m funding specifically comes from EU LIFE – the EU’s financial instrument for supporting environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the bloc.

A recent study from Sheffield University claimed that the efficient recycling of e-waste could be worth €3.7bn to the European economy by 2020.

Earlier this year, the UK Government allocated £600,000 to help develop Britain’s first ‘plasma facility’ which will recover gold, silver and platinum from electronic waste.

Brad Allen

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie