Electronic waste: 400,000 tons of household appliances are missing in Italy

Less seven percent of WEEE collected compared to 2021: these are the data of Erion Weee, the Erion system consortium dedicated to the management of household electrical and electronic equipment waste, which in the last year managed over 246 thousand tons of decommissioned devices in Italy (against 266 thousand in 2021).

The numbers

The negative decline concerns almost all groupings: the only type of electronic equipment that is an exception with a positive figure is that of light sources which, with around 211 tons collected, records a +13 percent on 2021. The most significant drop is that of small household appliances , with a minus 14 percent compared to the previous year: 20,107 tons against 23,357 in 2021.

The missed target

These results highlight the existence of unofficial management circuits and the inadequacy of controls along the supply chain. The Consortium – which represents a share of responsibility equal to 69 percent of the entire Italian system – estimates that collection in the country is stopped at 30 per cent and therefore 35 percentage points away from the European collection target (set at 65 per cent compared to the market placed in the previous three years). Today, more than 400,000 tons of domestic WEEE are missing, i.e. 3 million large appliances (such as refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines) and more than 400 million small appliances (such as cell phones, microwaves, radios). A loss that has important repercussions at a national level, even more so in a period of serious lack of resources like the current one. In fact, if Italy were able to intercept all the WEEE currently missing and send them to correct treatment, another 380,000 tonnes of raw materials could be recycled.

The causes

What determines this result? There are two main causes: poor separate waste collection and the presence of parallel markets. As confirmed by a recent study carried out by Ipsos for Erion, theItalians are not particularly virtuous when it comes to disposing of small WEEE: 1 out of 6 does it inappropriately, throwing them in the garbage bag, in the dumpster on the street or in the plastic binto. In the first places for incorrect management we find hair dryers, 22%; toaster and blender, 20% and cell phone chargers, 18%. Numbers to which must be added all the small WEEE that Italians keep at home even if broken or not working.

TV and large appliances

The collection of TVs and monitors is also decreasing which, after the exponential growth in 2021 due to the effect of the “TV scrapping bonus”, stops at around 44,632 tons, marking a -10 percent compared to the previous year. A decrease also for air conditioners with 77,464 tons collected (-2%), as well as for “heavier” electronic waste, i.e. those that contain large quantities of recoverable raw materials: -9% for large appliances, which go from over 114,700 tons in 2021 to 104,551 tons in 2022.


We are facing an alarming situation, which cannot be overlooked – explains Giorgio Arienti, General Manager of Erion Weee – There is still too much waste from electrical and electronic equipment that ends up in the wrong hands. Added to this is a problem of citizens’ awareness of the importance of properly separate collection of this waste. For the future, the education of citizens will be central: We need to invest more in awareness so that Italians understand that WEEE – as well as plastic, glass, paper and organic waste – cannot be thrown away in the unsorted rubbish bin or abandoned in some drawer, in the attic or in the cellar. We need to change perspective, understand that the actions of all of us have a weight and that when we talk about WEEE, even the smallest ones, we are talking about important raw materials that could be recycled, i.e. reused in new production cycles with all that is positive about it. follows. This is why Erion Weee has launched the “DireFareRAEE” communication campaign, a series of initiatives which over the next 18 months will try to tell Italians what WEEE are and how to make proper separate collection of them: everyone’s contribution is really needed.

Secondary raw materials

Despite the decrease, the recycling rate of secondary raw materials was equal to 89.5 percent of the weight of the devices collected. In particular, from the over 246,000 tons of domestic WEEE managed, the consortium obtained more than 125,000 tons of iron, about 5,000 tons of aluminium, over 5,000 tons of copper, and 32,000 tons of plastic.

Electronic waste: 400,000 tons of household appliances are missing in Italy