Smart containers 'to double' collection of e-waste in Italy

Italy: A 'revolutionary and unique' project to double the collection of electronic waste (WEEE) is underway in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The developers of a new high-tech container claim it will allow the disposal of items such as mobile phones and batteries to be controlled more effectively and made more efficient.

Identis Weee is an experimental project set up by the Hera Group, Ecolight – an Italian consortium for managing end-of-life electronic waste and batteries – and the Spanish foundation Ecolum. The project is worth about Euro 3.5 million, with the European Union providing half the funding.

The goal is to double the collection of materials such as mobile phones, light bulbs, electronic toys, TVs, computers and appliances. According to Italy's WEEE Coordination Centre, 240 000 tonnes of electronic waste were collected in 2012. Emilia-Romagna was the third largest region by volume, collecting 23 000 tonnes.

Intelligent experiment

'Intelligent bins' designed to make e-waste more easily traceable, monitoring its disposal and preventing dumping, will make their first appearance on the streets of Bologna and other cities in the region. The system is based on magnetic cards that have been distributed to 19 000 households involved in the experiment. Other collection locations will include shopping malls and major stores such as Ikea and Mediaworld.

If scheme proves successful, it will be implemented in other regions in Italy, the the Identis Weee partners have said.

Data from the UN Environment Programme suggests that 50 million tonnes of electronic waste is produced globally per year and only 10% is recycled. In the EU, despite progressive attempts at legislation, it is estimated that as much as 75% of electronic waste, 8 million tonnes per year, is illegally exported to developing countries.

For more information, visit

Sign up now for our free, weekly newsletter