The attendees were treated to a highly diverse agenda, which included 25 presentations held by experts, two panel discussions and three workshops as well as two plant tours at the companies Müller-Guttenbrunn Group and Montanwerke Brixlegg AG.
The first keynote speech was held by Robert C. ter Kuile, Global Director of Environmental Affairs at Amazon. He emphasised the fact that Amazon goes to great lengths to promote recycling and avoid packaging waste to the extent possible. Last year alone, Amazon managed to reduce the amount of packaging it uses by 1.3 billion items.
The keynote speech held by Professor Dr Egbert Lox, Senior Vice President Government Affairs at Umicore, also met with great interest, as he spoke about the complexity of sustainable mobility. And last but not least, Surendra Borad Patawari, the third keynote speaker, outlined how he expects the plastics recycling sector to develop worldwide going forward.
One of the main focuses of the conference was the latest innovations being developed in the field of e-waste recycling. Among other technologies, image recognition applications were presented by Lorenzo Glorie from Recupel vzw in Belgium. Dr Katrin Bokelmann from the Fraunhofer IWKS in Germany presented various methods for recovering material from display applications and printed circuit boards. In parallel, Paul Clark of Microsoft described what is meant by the term “Cloud Circular Economy”.
The conference additionally focused on smart recycling solutions for plastics. Here, the topic of chemical recycling was discussed in all its aspects, as was the treatment of plastics containing flame retardants. Bettina Lorz from the European Commission gave a presentation on quality standards for the treatment of WEEE. Dr Mathias Schluep from the World Resources Forum Association also spoke on the CEWASTE voluntary certification scheme for improving CRM recovery from WEEE and waste batteries.
The presentations were accompanied by various country reports on the subject of e-waste recycling, which focused on the countries Rwanda, Australia and Brazil this year.
Next year, the IERC will again take place in Salzburg, this time from January 20 to 22, 2021.