Waste of electrical and electronic equipment, otherwise known as e-waste, is one of the fastest growing fractions in the worldwide municipal waste stream. As this e-waste contains valuable resources which can be easily recycled, as well as hazardous substances which have to be treated in an environmentally sound manner, many countries have launched programs to deal with this challenge. These recycling systems have to be cost efficient and recover material or energy whilst still complying with environmental standards. Switzerland has two such e-waste recycling systems which were established on a voluntary basis and have been operating since 1991. This paper evaluates the historical data of one system: SWICO, and assesses the development of the system's costs. It also forecasts the development of waste volume for personal computers until the year 2020.
During the setting up of SWICO many pragmatic decisions had to be made, one of which resulted in the introduction of an advanced recycling fee on sales for each electronic item. From 1994 to the present moment, SWICO has expanded its activity, lowered its fees and increased its return rate to almost 100%. In this work a comparison is made between SWICO and a similar e-waste system from Norway. Although the two systems differ somewhat in their calculation of recycling reimbursement the Norwegian system couples these costs to actual metal and plastic prices other systems have achieved high return rates and have lowered advanced recycling fees. They are also accepted nationwide and comply with high environmental standards. In addition to this, the Norwegian system boasts the lowest fees in Europe whilst still maintaining a high degree of transparency.