What is ecoRaee?

ecoRaee (Demonstration of a re-use process of WEEE addressed to propose regulatory policies in accordance to EU law) is the sixth of 35 projects selected in the 2011 EU LIFE+ programme within the environmental and governance sub-programme.

Coordinated by the Universidade de Vigo, in association with revertia and EnergyLab, this is a three-year transfer project with a total budget of 1,269,155 euros, with the European Union providing a subsidy of 622,038 euros, in other words, 50% of the total budget.

Who is in the project team?

ecoRaee is an institutional and collaborative project, whose scientific direction is coordinated by the Office of the Vice Rector of Knowledge Transfer at the Universidade de Vigo, with the support of the Internationalisation Subdivision and the University's Central Services, with a view to ensuring the running of the project, as well as its correct financial certification.

1)This is an institutional project comprising departments and/or research groups from the Universidade de Vigo, as well as other university services such as the Environmental Office, the European Project Section of the Research and Development Support Service, and the Rector's Office, responsible for institutional communication.

As far as the project's scientific-technological responsibility is concerned, this is distributed between the following five departments and/or research groups from the Universidade de Vigo:

  • Department of Mechanical Engineering, represented by the Vice Rector of Knowledge Transfer, José Antonio Vilán Vilán.
  • Department of Electrical Engineering, represented by José Cidrás.
  • Department of Computer Engineering, represented by Javier Rodeiro.
  • Department of Applied Economic and the REDE Group, through the participation of Miguel Rodríguez.
  • Department of Environmental Law, represented by Roberto Bustillo.

2) This is also a collaborative project, with the Universidade de Vigo working in association with the Vigo start-up company revertia, founded in December 2009 as an electronic waste management operator, and the technological centre EnergyLab, founded in 2008, specialising in energy efficiency and sustainability, in order to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of the reuse and recycling of such devices.

What are the project's general and specific objectives?

The general aim for ecoRaee consists of characterising and demonstrating an industrial preparation process for reusing electronic equipment to promote standards that guarantee the correct implementation of European law and contribute to a high level of separation of WEEE - 45% to 65% over the coming years.

The specific objectives for the ecoRaee project are as follows:

  • Characterise and compare the environmental impact of the various ongoing WEEE disposal processes (reuse vs. recycling).
  • Define a reuse preparation process and ascertain the resources needed to put it into practice.
  • Establish the obligatory requirements (the basis for auditable standards) during the reuse preparation process, outlined in a guide of proposed regulatory improvements and technical standards to be applied.
  • Assess technical and economic feasibility and the scalability of the reuse preparation process through a number of demonstration processes, as well as evaluating environmental and policy implications.
  • Raise awareness among all those involved in the process (recycling companies, user enterprises and the public administration) regarding the preference for WEEE reuse over recycling, making the process widely available in order to ensure a ratio of at least 45% of separated WEEE collection by waste management operators, involving 5,000 people on a national and European level.
  • Ensure and improve correct implementation of European regulations - Directive 2012/19/EU passed by the European Parliament and the Council on 4 July 2012 regarding waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) - increasing application by more than 80% over the next three years.

What actions are to be implemented?

ecoRaee has identified five actions (preparatory, implementation, monitoring, communication and dissemination, and tracking). All of these actions will be supported by the resources provided by the participating partners: the Universidade de Vigo, revertia and EnergyLab.

Nevertheless, many other organisations have shown their support for the project: both national and regional public authorities working in the field of development and the application of European Community WEEE law (the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment and the Galician Regional Government's Ministry of Environment, Regional Planning and Infrastructure) as well as organisations within the recycling industry, especially ARESS (the Spanish Association for the Recovery of a Social and Solidarity-Based Economy).

It is also worth highlighting the fact that although the Universidade de Vigo is the primary beneficiary on an operational level, the scientific-technological project work will be distributed among a number of departments and research groups operating in the area, bearing in mind the technical, social, economic and environmental issues, with a multi-disciplinary focus.

What are the results expected from the project?

ecoRaee expects to see the following results:

  • Acquire full knowledge of WEEE reuse and recycling legislation and identify areas of uncertainty, aimed at proposing new European standards and regulations.
  • Establish a single calculation method for life cycle assessment (LCA) of the WEEE life cycle, duly documented if possible, or else based on demonstrably solid methodology.
  • Qualitatively and quantitatively determine the parameters which characterise the environmental and economic impact of the part of the preparation process concerned with the reuse of computer equipment covered by the project sample.
  • Outline the protocol and scope of the process, together with the associated business plan (ABP) for the reuse procedure.
  • Establish two WEEE reuse islands to demonstrate the reuse process.
  • Set up four demonstration processes to analyse the feasibility of the WEEE reuse process, in this case, demonstrated on computer equipment.
  • Design an economic balance of the recovery process for reuse and in comparison to recycling, as well as the overall external economic effects of the plant, in order to assess economic and technical feasibility (industrial scalability).
  • Define and establish regulatory standards, adapting the technical progress shown in the project framework to the legal context via the subsequent proposals for improvements in European, national and regional law.
  • Orientate stakeholders from the economic-environmental sector to the application and development of the reuse process with a view to ensuring significant socioeconomic and environmental impact: modifications to legislation, industrial practices, perception and consumer behaviour.