Eco-systèmes – an eco-organization approved by the authorities for the collection and recycling of electrical appliances – has collected and recycled 1.6 million refrigerators in 2016. Veolia handled 276,500 appliances at its site in Angers, which is the largest unit specializing in the treatment of WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) in France.

The appropriate treatment of large cold appliances – which includes refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners – is essential because they contain fluorinated gases that have a high greenhouse gas effect and are made of materials that can be recycled.

Decontaminate then recycle

Decontaminating cold appliances is essential as the refrigerant gases they contain have a global warming potential up to 10,000 times higher than CO2, Some now banned fluorinated gases (CFCs / HFCs) are still present in 34 % of the equipment collected. Once decontamination is complete, the materials are recycled, which makes it possible to preserve natural resources and manufacture new products.

In Angers Veolia manages the largest WEEE recycling facility in France

In 2016, Eco-systèmes sent 276,500 large appliances to Angers – 17 % of all the cold appliances collected by the eco-organization in the country. Veolia recovered 14,678 tonnes of materials – 58 % steel, 5 % non-ferrous metals, and 20 % plastic.
More generally, the Angers site has achieved recycling rates of 94% for large appliances, 88% for screens (tablets, flat and cathode screens) and 91 % for small electrical appliances (kettles, hair dryers, etc.).

Recycling creates jobs

In total, collecting and recycling electrical and electronic equipment generates 7,000 jobs, of which 1,800 are through social inclusion programs. 200 people work on Veolia’s Angers site, 48 of whom have disabilities. The Group offers them training in dismantling and sorting activities and supports them throughout the social inclusion program.

“The materials used in electrical and electronic equipment are too rare to be used once. The Angers plant transforms large cold appliances into recycled raw materials, which then become new consumer products,” said Eric Wascheul, Veolia’s Director of Operations, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Recycling.

WEEE recycling: France is first in Europe

In 2016, Eco-systèmes collected and recycled 517,000 tonnes of electrical waste, equivalent to 10 kg per capita (as against 9 kg in 2015) and representing a collection rate that exceeds the regulatory target (49.2 % as against 45 %). These good results make France the first European country to reach the 10 kg / inhabitant threshold, thanks to the creation of a high quality sector.


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