IERC: Challenges of WEEE recycling

Around 450 representatives from the recycling industry, OEM’s, academia, manufacturing, governments, media and NGOs have attended this year’s International Electronics Recycling Congress (IERC).
Siegfried Springer, pixelio.de

Three keynote speakers opened the event: Aaron Goldberg, an excellent expert on the Basel Convention, Steven Clayton, Regulatory Affairs Manager at Samsung, and Dr. Janez Potočnik, Co-Chair of the UN International Resource Panel and former EU Environment Commissioner.

The US attorney Aaron Goldberg gave an overview of the challenges and tasks facing the Basel Convention in the course of the further development of the circular economy. Aaron has over two decades of extensive experience with the recycling sector. He helped to write the EPA hazardous waste rules many years ago and has long served as a lead attorney working on the untangling of national waste classification rules for used and EOL electronics world-wide. Aaron mentioned the review and possible adoption of revised Technical Guidelines as one of the tasks for the Basel Convention. He also mentioned the review and possible adoption of amendments on plastic wastes and the decision to be made on tools for inventories and reporting for both lithium batteries and plastic wastes.

Steven Clayton then presented Samsung’s circular economy principals. Steve has been with Samsung for 5 years and works as a regulatory affairs manager for Samsung Electronics (Europe). He explained what Samsung understands by Galaxy Upcycling and why he sees the chemicals and waste interface as both a key opportunity and a challenge regarding the recyclability of electronics.

Last but not least, Dr Janez Potočnik spoke about the importance of keeping materials in the circular economy. The former EU Environment Commissioner was appointed as a Co-Chair of the Environmental International Resource Panel in November 2014. In April 2016 he was also appointed as partner in SYSTEMIQ. Janez spoke about the potential for increasing resource efficiency and the circular economy prospects. ‘For 54 scarce and economically important raw materials, Europe in its entirety depends 90% on raw materials imported from outside Europe’, he emphasised.

The morning ended with the annual Presenting of the “IERC Honorary Award”. This year Norbert Zonneveld received the award. Norbert celebrates 14 years of service as Executive Secretary of EERA. He received the IERC Honorary Award in recognition of a career focused on the responsible recycling of Electronics. Through the past 14 years Norbert has contributed significantly to the development and evolution of the WEEE Directive, the development of recycling standards and practices and he has contributed and led thought provoking discussions debating WEEE now, and in the future and its connection to the Circular Economy.

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