Circular e-waste needs new ecosystems

The Netherlands, with a less than 50% collection rate, does not meet European standards for e-waste. There is insufficient return of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) from consumers and businesses. In addition to better collection and processing of e-waste, reducing usage through less purchasing and extending product lifespan, reuse, and repair is crucial for a circular economy.


In the e-waste chain, some barriers hinder achieving the 65% collection target and do not contribute to extending product lifespan. These barriers include a lack of knowledge among consumers and businesses, the absence of accessible collection systems, and the fact that collected e-waste often lacks the right quality for further processing. Metabolic has mapped this out for the Topsector Logistics and the CoE City Net Zero of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Waste management and collection systems are fragmented and mainly cost-focused, with little cooperation between parties. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) leaves much to the market, not encouraging alternatives. The current system focuses primarily on recycling, making reuse and repair less common. These barriers are also present with old furniture, clothing, and toys.


For better collection, specialized public-private structures and new collection methods by logistics service providers are needed. This also requires space around cities. PBL states that by 2050, up to 40% more space will be needed for circular businesses in general. Secondly, it involves changing consumer behavior: engaging consumers in collection by linking purchase and return, offering financial incentives, raising awareness, and making returns easier. Finally, regulations and industry agreements are necessary.

Logistics service providers have opportunities to improve and renew collection networks, efficiently process e-waste, and implement local repair and return concepts in urban areas. The waste transport sub-market of Transport and Logistics Netherlands has 400 collection and transport companies. They link parties with residual materials and those with raw material needs. These companies have opportunities to organize collection networks, efficient e-waste processing, and local repair and return concepts. The economic value of the e-waste collection market is 900 to 1,000 million euros annually, and this market continues to grow in the following years. Additionally, there are opportunities with the increasing flow of returning solar panels.

EPR means that suppliers are financially and organizationally responsible for managing the waste from the products they sell. Circularity requires new cooperation between different disciplines within the organization and with suppliers.


Cooperation between public and private parties in collection and processing is also indispensable. This collaboration involves the practical aspects of circular processes, such as collection systems and technology, clean collection vehicles, containerization, and local repair and return points network. It also involves sharing data on expected circular flows, a digital product passport, and the processing of return flows. And not least, how can we encourage customers to adopt circular practices?

What do innovative circular ecosystems look like, how do they evolve, and which elements contribute to their success? What revenue models are available, reliable, and affordable, and how can initiatives be sustainably scaled?

It’s not just about financial feasibility but also social values and the scarcity of raw materials. Innovations are not off-the-shelf and must be designed and tested in logistics practice.

If you don’t do it because of regulations or concerns about future generations, do it because it can be a profitable business model.

Read the full report here.

Walther Ploos van Amstel


See also: The opportunities of E-Waste

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Walther Ploos van Amstel  

Passie in logistiek & supply chain management