Bo2W impact on CO2 Emissions

Does the CO2 impact of international transport of the Worldloop approach negate the CO2 wins from recycling?

The Belgian CO2 environmental consulting firm CO2logic performed an in-depth analysis of WorldLoop’s operationalization of the Best of 2 Worlds (Bo2W) to answer this question.

The results were astounding: For every ton of e-waste collected and recycled; 1.44 tons of CO2 emissions are avoided. In other words, with the 954 tons of e-waste collected and recycled by WorldLoop’s projects, 1,374 tons of CO2 emissions have been avoided. (That’s 734,759 m³ of CO2, which is slightly bigger than the Statue of Liberty).

The CO2 reductions can be broken down into the following:
– 1,030 tons of CO2 avoided because no virgin materials had to be produced
– 331 tons of CO2 avoided because of local recycling activities
– 13 tons of CO2 avoided because of energy recovery of non-recyclables
– The total CO2 emissions avoided amount to 4.5 times the emissions produced taking into account collection, pre-treatment and transporting of e-waste following the Bo2W model.


CO2 Logic Disclaimer

The activities of WorldLoop will emit greenhouse gasses and thus have an impact on the climate. The collection of waste with trucks uses fuel, electricity used in the sorting centre, and the transport to Europe by vessel also uses fuel. CO2 Logic calculated the impact of those activities on the climate.

However, the activities of WorldLoop also avoid emissions. Indeed, due to the recycling of material and reintroduction into production, less new material will have to be produced. Because the production of material from virgin resources needs more energy, and emits more greenhouse gasses than recycling, the activity of recycling “avoids” the emission of greenhouse gasses.

In the calculation for the avoided emissions CO2 Logic included:

  • the metals and precious metals that are recovered in Europe will avoid the production of metals from virgin resources. The difference in greenhouse gas emissions between the two production systems are the avoided emissions.
  • for the recycling of metals in the formal African recycling sites the avoided emissions are also taken into account (compared to the production of virgin material)
  • for CRT-glass the avoided emissions are calculated by TNO, taking several factor of the downcycling of the CRT-glass into account
  • plastics recycled in Europe replace the production of plastics from virgin resources
  • downcycling of plastics in posts by Ecopost is treated with precausion because it is not sure if this replaces plastics from virgin materials or other materials such as wood, metal, etc. Avoided emissions are reported separately.
  • also for recycling of metals in the informal economy, we are very cautious because we are not sure how much energy is used. Expected avoided emissions are reported separately.
  • the treatment of waste in Europe also avoids emissions. If wood is for example incinerated with recovery of energy to produce heat or electricity, this emits less greenhouse gasses than the production of heat or electricity using the typical energy production system. The avoided emissions due to waste treatment in Europe are also taken into account.
  • for waste that is send to Asia, the avoided emissions are unsure, so the expected avoided emissions are reported separately.
  • for waste that is treated in Africa or Asia in the formal or informal economy, no avoided emissions are taken into account