WEEE@school, electrical and electronic waste is transformed from an issue to an opportunity


WEEE collection at the Fermi Institute of Bologna
WEEE collection at the Fermi Institute of Bologna

the growing diffusion of electronic devices determines an ever greater risk of dumping of WEEE (Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment) in the environment. In reality, they represent true mines for raw materials (called “urban mines” or “hidden mines”), many of which are rare and precious, of which it is necessary to make citizens and cities aware. The recovery of WEEE, in particular of small ones, is a fundamental action for the careful safeguard of our territory and of the resources that the environment makes available to us: it is in fact digital watches, calculators, mobile phones or lightbulbs that are mistakenly thrown away as unsorted waste, causing great damage to the environment - and consequently to health - as well as representing a great source of pollution.

The European project Raw Matters Ambassadors at Schools (RM@Schools) - managed by the National Research Council of Italy - brings the issue of WEEE management and the opportunities offered by the recycling and recovery of the materials contained therein to the schools, not only promoting the education of young generations on this crucial issue for the future of our society, but also the development of collaborations in the context of the “knowledge” triangle: research - schools - businesses. This is what happened with the Cnr project developed together with the HERA Group, which contributed to raise awareness of some students from  an Italian high schoo -the Fermi Institute of Bolognal based in Bologna. 

The project also showed the importance of the development and management of a database from which it is possible to quantify (albeit approximatively) the value of the recovery carried out: for this purpose, the European 'weee4future' and the Italian (managed and made accessible by the WEEE Coordination Center) platforms have been made available, helping to create general awareness on the trend of the collection of domestic WEEE. To learn more about what RM@Schools has achieved in this area, we attach a relevant 'Roadmap'.

For further informtion about how scientific research deals with the management of WEEE, the environmental benefits that can be gained (for example energy savings and consequent reduction of CO2 emissions) and circular economy related themes, the following publication, involving a Cnr author, is available: A. Zanelli, La Chimica e l’industria online, Anno II, N° 2 , Marzo/Aprile 2019.

Per informazioni:
Armida Torreggiani
CNR - Istituto per la sintesi organica e la fotoreattività
Area della Ricerca di Bologna Via P. Gobetti, 101 - Bologna
Cnr-RM@Schools Team for Website and social network communication
Alessandra Degli Esposti, email:
Lorenzo Forini, email:
Michela Tassistro, email:
Ilaria Schizzi, email:

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