Two programs that pursue the same objective – the collection of electrical and electronic waste (WEEE). The difference between these two programs refers to implementation strategy.
A popular saying goes something like this: “You reap what you sow.” The original Romanian saying refers to children’s upbringing, but it actually touches on the same sensitive aspect: education. Therefore, it is difficult to educate the population to normally and naturally recycle electrical and electronic equipment waste (WEEE), if the state comes up with proposals that offer financial benefits in this regard, such as the „Rabla” ( ) program for household appliances.
And when Romanians wish to buy new appliances, most of them prefer to do so by means of Buy Back programs. That’s because they are encouraged to receive discounts, as long as they offer an old product in return.
And most of the equipment that no longer manages to be part of a Buy Back program is either stored in people’s homes for many years or is thrown away in an unregulated manner in the garbage, where it becomes harmful to the environment, as well as to our health.
This year witnesses the carrying out of the Rabla (Scrap) program for household appliances once more, and the budget allocated by the Environment Fund Administration is RON 75 million, as compared to last year’s RON 40 million. This also includes a discount granted to new appliances’ buyers, which can reach up to 500 lei, if they bring old equipment in exchange for a new one.
However, the continuation of this program only contradicts all the efforts in terms of education and awareness of Romanians, which the associations in the field have carry out so far by means of OTRs.
„The habit of handing over such equipment, only to receive a voucher in return, is not constructive. And the respective waste turns into waste that is dangerous for people’s health. In addition, storage does not help circular economy at all. Only by means of recycling can waste be turned into raw materials, and will thus re-enter the production circuit”, according to Cristian Pocol, president of the RESPO WEEE Association.
Take Back – you recycle without receiving any money in return
Recycling of electrical and electronic equipment waste (WEEE) can also be done successfully by means of programs that do not offer certain amounts of money or vouchers in exchange for appliances. And the proof in this regard stems from many developed countries, where this process is already taking place.
And here we refer to Take back programs, by means of which those who buy new equipment are willing to recycle their used products, even if they do not receive money in return for this exchange. They are simply acting in this manner, because the system regulated by that country provides for this situation, and this represents a natural order of things. Moreover, the buyer will even pay an additional fee, if he/she does not offer up a used product in return for a new one.
The system was implemented under the pressure of a minimum collection target that is difficult to achieve, namely 65% of the average volumes placed on the market in the previous three years. Still, the UK, for example, failed to reach the minimum collection target in 2020. And worldwide, in 2019, less than 20% of the generated electrical and electronic equipment waste (WEEE) was collected and treated in the formal circuit.
“I believe that the long-term solution is to educate the population to hand over such waste for recycling purposes and for this to become a normal behaviour, instead of people being stimulated by the fact that they will receive a voucher to buy a new product,” according to Cristian Pocol.