Recycling needs to be tackled at the design stage

Environmental legislation is now regularly discussed in every division and committee within BIR, thereby fully validating the decision of the world recycling association to form the International Environment Council (IEC) approaching two decades ago.
Thorben Wengert,

With these words, the IEC’s Chairman Olivier François of Galloo opened a meeting in Barcelona on May 30 which covered: payment for disposal of non-recyclable materials and end-of-life goods; latest recycling-related developments at the Basel and Stockholm Conventions; and the interface between radioactivity and scrap.

Mr François reminded delegates that much of the IEC meeting in Hong Kong in May 2017 had been devoted to potential thresholds on the flame retardant decaBDE owing to its classification as a persistent organic pollutant, or POP. And now, a potential POP listing for pentadecaflurooctanic acid (PFOA) could bring prohibitions on the recycling of products containing this substance, such as textiles. Recyclers need to know exactly where these substances are, explained BIR Trade & Environment Director Ross Bartley.

With an increasing number of substances being regulated and having ever-tighter thresholds applied to them, there were ramifications for recyclers that “need to be tackled at the design stage”, insisted Emmanuel Katrakis, Secretary General of the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation.

Many manufacturers tended to proclaim the energy efficiency of their goods rather than focusing on resource efficiency. With many products not designed in such a way as to assist with their recycling at end-of-life stage, Mr Katrakis suggested a rating system similar to that used for energy efficiency could help the public to recognise the recyclability of individual products.

The presentation from Mr Bartley also covered recent recycling-relevant gatherings under the Basel Convention umbrella, including the first meeting of the Household Waste Partnership Working Group in Mauritius two weeks prior to the BIR Convention in Barcelona. The group will aim to produce guidance for developing countries on the prevention and minimisation of household waste, as well as its separation at source, recycling, use as an energy recovery and final disposal.

Guest speaker and former IEC Chairman Dr Alvaro Rodríguez de Sanabria, who is Director of Arka Consulting in Spain, reviewed the issues surrounding the discovery of an orphan radioactive source in scrap. The scrap industry was the unwitting recipient of such a source and should not be treated as a guilty party for locating it but rather as a “needed collaborator” helping to recapture radioactive sources that had escaped governmental control systems.


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