The EU may make recycling e-waste a legal requirement – will it work?

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Pile of old computers

E-waste is a growing issue

Bill Hinton/Getty Images

Countries in the European Union should be legally required to recycle critical metals in electronic waste, a report has found. The proposed law would be unprecedented and could drive countries outside the EU to follow suit, but there are several challenges to overcome to make this recycling work in practice.

The report by the EU-funded CEWASTE consortium argues that making recycling a legal requirement will help EU countries reduce their reliance on imports and protect against future disruption to the supply of critical metals, such as lithium, neodymium and praseodymium, which are essential for manufacturing electronic and electrical equipment. Rates of recycling of critical raw materials in the EU are currently “close to zero” in…

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