The Life Cycle Assessment methodology has enabled to calculate the environmental footprint of the entire Remedia chain, obtaining an assessment of the environmental costs and benefits deriving from the activities carried out by the Remedia system.
The environmental benefits are assessed following the “avoided product” approach that measures the positive environmental impact deriving from the use of secondary raw materials instead of virgin raw materials.
In 2018, Remedia Carbon Footprint balance is equal to 236,694 tons of avoided CO2eq. This figure is affected by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), gases with a very high climate-altering potential contained in refrigerators and other R1 equipment: 1 kg of CFC has the same impact of more than 12 tons of CO2. Despite the increase in the flows managed by Remedia, the Carbon Footprint balance has been reduced by 23% precisely due to the lower quantities of CFCs and HFCs sent for thermal disposal (54 tons in 2018 compared to 98 tons in 2017) thanks to the effects of the 1987 Montreal Protocol that progressively banned the use of these gases.
Even leaving aside the benefits related to their proper management (36% of the total in 2018), the balance would still be positive as a result of the 117,583 tons of avoided CO2eq, 30% more than in 2017, in line with the increase in the quantities treated.
As regards the benefits generated by the recovery of materials alone, equal to 205,473 tons of CO2eq, over half of the emissions avoided is attributable to the recycling of ferrous metals and aluminium. This latter element, despite representing 4% of the amounts sent for recycling in 2018, is accountable for almost a fifth of the overall benefits of the recycling activities carried out by Remedia. The use of this secondary raw material avoids the emissions connected to the production of bauxite (the principal ore of aluminium) characterized by energy-intensive processes and extraction methods in heavily polluting open-air mines, responsible for significant deforestation phenomena.
*travelling 20 thousand km per year.
In 2018, the water balance related to the management of e-waste by the Remedia system shows a net water saving (or not polluted) of 2,059,998 m3, an increase of 15% compared to 2017.
Compared to the other 3 environmental footprints analyzed, for the 2,747,755 m3 of water saved or unpolluted thanks to recycling alone, the highest contribution is given by metals, equal to 80% of the total benefits. This result is mostly attributable to copper and iron, mainly present in the R1, R3 and R4 groupings. Despite copper weighing only 4% of the total materials sent for recovery in 2018, the benefit deriving from its recycling is the most significant: this datum is particularly influenced by the high polluting power of groundwater that characterizes its production process.
Of the 4 environmental footprints analyzed, the Material Footprint balance of the e-waste managed by the Remedia system is the one that shows the most marked progress compared to the previous year, with a net saving of raw materials that topped 226.917 tons in 2018, +28% compared to 2017. This improvement is closely related to the increase in the quantities processed by Remedia, which between 2017 and 2018 have increased by 39%, and consequently by the higher volumes of secondary raw materials.
Of the 292,515 tons of raw materials saved thanks to the recovery of materials alone, iron recycling accounts for 43%, representing about 1/3 of the total materials recovered by Remedia in 2018.
In second place, in terms of benefits generated by recycling, there is lead, contained in batteries and accumulators. This last category of e-waste, although representing only a 9% share of the quantities sent for materials recovery during the year, accounts for almost 20% of the benefit generated by recycling, in particular due to the footprint of lead contained in them.
In 2018, the Land Footprint of the e-waste managed by the Remedia system, showed a net amount of land not used equal to 1,067 hectares, +19% compared to 2017.
Of the 1,323 hectares of land saved thanks to the recovery of materials alone, the main contribution, unlike the other footprints, is not attributable to metal but to glass (coming mainly from the R3s), accounting for almost half of the related environmental benefit. This is thanks to the avoided use of virgin silica and quartz, basic raw materials for glass and ceramics, whose production generates a strong pressure on land caused by the exploitation of open-pit mineral deposits leaving large areas of compromised soil. Metals, primarily copper and iron, account for 54.8%: of the overall benefit. Copper recycling generates proportionately higher benefits than other metals, as its production from virgin raw material requires the use of significant amounts of land, due to the mining exploitation of deposits and the low concentration of copper in the excavated rocks (just 1% by weight).