Facts and myths

Myth:

Recycling e-waste is environmentally and energetically more demanding than its incineration or landfilling.

Fact:

Because landfills and incinerators are subject to strict environmental limits, toxic emissions to the atmosphere are practically excluded. It is important to realise, however, that all the substances that are difficult to extract thereby end up in the atmosphere even though they could be reused through recycling. Landfills merely store the waste material and do not process it further.

On the other hand, recycling today allows us to use approximately 80% of materials contained in e-waste. For example, a mobile phone contains 0.0034 grams of gold. Mining this amount of gold would create more than 100 kg of waste, in addition to greater CO2 emissions.

Secondary materials acquired by recycling bring considerable advantages. For example, recycling of iron results in 74% savings of electricity and 90% of primary materials, an 86% reduction in air pollution, 40% savings of water, a 76% reduction in water pollution, a 97% reduction of mining waste, and a 106% reduction of communal waste.

Positive environmental impacts of recycling electrical and electronic equipment were evaluated through unique Life Cycle Assessment studies of discarded television sets and PC monitors as well as of small electrical and electronic equipment. Its methodology and results can be found in the Processors section.

Myth:

There’s too much ado about e-waste. It represents only a small proportion in comparison to the other types of waste.

Fact:

E-waste is currently the fastest growing type of waste. Worldwide, it already accounts for up to 5% by weight of solid household waste, almost as much as plastic packaging.

In EU countries, where households produce approximately 8 million tonnes of e-waste per year, the volume of e-waste increases by 3 to 5% per year, almost three times as fast as does the overall waste volume. Experts estimate that in 2020 alone the EU will have to deal with almost 11 million tonnes of e-waste. Ten years after that, annual production will rise to almost 14 million tonnes. Organisations and companies, meanwhile, will produce approximately an additional 3 million tonnes of e-waste.

Myth:

It is best to leave the appliance next to the waste bin. There’s always someone in need who can use it.

Fact:

This is a really erroneous idea. By leaving an appliance next to a waste bin, you commit an offense for which a fine of as much as CZK 20,000 can be imposed by law. In addition, even if someone would be interested in the abandoned appliance, he or she can easily find it considerably damaged by the elements and other influences. Moreover, the probability that whoever finds it will hand it over for recycling is very low.

Myth:

Companies collecting e-waste are getting rich on it.

Fact:

In the Czech Republic, only compliance schemes are entitled to collect e-waste, and by law they have a not-for-profit character. Compliance schemes provide for collection, transportation and recycling of ewaste. These companies are financed by producers and importers of electrical and electronic equipment, which have been obliged by law to do so since 2005. Compliance schemes receive just enough money in order to fund their operations. Their management is strictly monitored not only by their founders but also by leading audit companies.

Myth:

In fact, e-waste is not processed. The collecting companies only sell it to third-world countries.

Fact:

Handling of e-waste is carefully supervised in the Czech Republic. The largest Czech compliance schemes are members of the international organisation WEEE Forum, which guarantees responsible and legal handling of e-waste. The Czech Republic also has signed the Basel Convention which prohibits exporting e-waste to third-world countries. According to environmentalists, the main source of computer waste is the US, which is the only developed country that did not sign the Basel Convention.

Myth:

People should be allowed to hand in e-waste free of charge. E-shops offering transportation of old appliances from the household when purchasing new appliances usually charge around CZK 300.

Fact:

Everyone can turn in e-waste free of charge at collection yards, during mobile collections, into containers for small e-waste, or at the points of sale when buying new appliances. E-shops usually charge not for recycling, but only for transporting the appliance.

Myth:

E-waste contains a lot of precious metals. It is better to take the device apart at home and get those metals for yourself than to hand it over for recycling.

Fact:

You really won’t get rich by taking apart your mobile phone at home. Although the individual appliances do contain precious metals, these are only in tiny amounts. Moreover, most of these precious metals can only be obtained using special technologies that only qualified processors have at their disposal.

Endeavouring to disassemble the device also can have negative consequences. Unqualified disassembly can create personal health risks. For example, television screens can implode, all electrical and electronic equipment with rechargeable batteries (mobile phones, laptops, etc.) can contain heavy metals (especially cadmium), and there is a risk of fire in case of shorting between multiple rechargeable batteries.

Myth:

Collection points are too far from where people live.

Fact:

Czechs currently can hand in appliances at the end of their life at more than 15,000 places around the country. That is five times more than in the environmentally advanced Austria. Collection yards are now in almost every medium-sized municipality. On the streets and at municipal offices, there are special ewaste containers, and many waste-separation points include red containers for small electrical and electronic devices. To say that collection points are too remote is only an excuse for those too lazy to separate their waste.

Myth:

When I buy a new, state-of-the-art mobile, it’s always better to keep the old and functional one for potential future use.

Fact:

Let’s be honest: how many of us have ever used an old appliance we’ve set aside when buying a new one? Throwing out an appliance which is still functional seems like waste, but if you don’t give it to someone it is completely useless to keep a telephone at home in your drawer. It is estimated that there are as many as 8 million unused mobiles in Czech households. A large majority will never be used by anyone. It is better for the environment when such appliances are handed in for recycling or for further use – for example, by donation to children’s homes. You can do just this at the website for the charity project Donate a Mobile.

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Telephone: +420 234 235 111
E-mail: info@asekol.cz

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