A total of 26.1Mg of residual waste from 3129 households in 12 Danish municipalities was analysed and revealed that 89.6kg of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), 11kg of batteries, 2.2kg of toners and 16kg of cables had been wrongfully discarded. This corresponds to a Danish household discarding 29g of WEEE (7 items per year), 4g of batteries (9 batteries per year), 1g of toners and 7g of unidentifiable cables on average per week, constituting 0.34% (w/w), 0.04% (w/w), 0.01% (w/w) and 0.09% (w/w), respectively, of residual waste. The study also found that misplaced WEEE and batteries in the residual waste constituted 16% and 39%, respectively, of what is being collected properly through the dedicated special waste collection schemes. This shows that a large amount of batteries are being discarded with the residual waste, whereas WEEE seems to be collected relatively successfully through the dedicated special waste collection schemes. Characterisation of the misplaced batteries showed that 20% (w/w) of the discarded batteries were discarded as part of WEEE (built-in). Primarily alkaline batteries, carbon zinc batteries and alkaline button cell batteries were found to be discarded with the residual household waste. Characterisation of WEEE showed that primarily small WEEE (WEEE directive categories 2, 5a, 6, 7 and 9) and light sources (WEEE directive category 5b) were misplaced. Electric tooth brushes, watches, clocks, headphones, flashlights, bicycle lights, and cables were items most frequently found. It is recommended that these findings are taken into account when designing new or improving existing special waste collection schemes. Improving the collection of WEEE is also recommended as one way to also improve the collection of batteries due to the large fraction of batteries found as built-in. The findings in this study were comparable to other western European studies, suggesting that the recommendations made in this study could apply to other western European countries as well.
Waste Management, 2013, Vol 33, Issue 11, p. 2372-2380