Circular economy and WEEE

Last week, around 450 industry representatives came to Salzburg for the International Electronics Recycling Congress IERC. More than 39 different nations were represented.

Three keynote speakers opened the congress: 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 three presentations were the prelude to a two-day conference program that covered the entire spectrum of current developments in E-waste market and how it relates to the Circular Economy.

One of the main focus areas of the conference was the further development of the circular economy. Among other things, representatives of HP and the Sims Group presented their recycling activities for printers. Further presentations explained measures for the further development of the recycling economy in Norway and Denmark. Parallel to this, recycling experts presented new technological developments for the recycling of E-waste. The focus was on advanced sorting solutions and smart separation & shredding.

This year’s country reports, which are an integral part of the IERC, also showed that the E-waste markets in the individual countries are very different. This year there were presentations on the development of producer responsibility in South Africa and future opportunities for E-waste in India. Other presentations focused on the new electrical and electronic waste recycling plant in Hong Kong. And, last but not least, renowned experts discussed the impacts and opportunities of China’s Scrap import restrictions in a Round Table.

Many other topics were on the agenda, including the current uncertainty about the further development of the discussion about the possible tightening of the thresholds for plastics containing decaBDE from waste electrical and electronic equipment. In another presentation the question was raised, how efficient is the dry separation technology of flame-retardant WEEE plastics.

For the first time, the IERC 2019 also examined the impact of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on the E-waste industry and took stock of the implementation of the new ‘WEEE Open Scope’ approach. Presentations on the new rules for the transport of lithium batteries and lithium batteries contained in equipment (ADR 2019) also met with great interest. This also applied to the presentation on new UN classifications for transport of lithium batteries, related to their hazardous materials.

The date for the next IERC 2020 is January 22 to 24, 2020.

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