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Strong EERA presence and participation at E-waste World Conference

   Fri, 20th Nov, 2020

This week the European Electronics Recyclers Association (EERA) contributed to the online E-waste world  conference https://www.ewaste-expo.com/ with two interesting presentations and robust participation in the panel discussion. 

EERA experts Manfred Fahrner and Chris Slijkhuis both made presentations to the conference, which brought together globally renowned specialists from the electronics and e-waste recycling industry to result in an impressive line-up.  Manfred Fahrner’s presentation was entitled ‘Recycling and material markets functioning or a need for regulation?’ while Chris Slijkhuis presented on the topic of ‘Fast Tracks a requirement for circular economy of electronics waste?’ 

Fahrner’s presentation focused on the Circular Economy Plan and the challenges facing secondary raw materials in competing with primary raw materials. In the Circular Economy Action Plan it states: (4.3.): Secondary raw materials face a number of challenges in competing with primary raw materials for reasons not only related to their safety, but also to their performance, availability and cost. A number of factions foreseen in this Plan, notably introducing requirements for recycled content in products, will contribute to preventing a mismatch between supply and demand. 

Fahrner stated: “Prices can undergo dramatic fluctuations. Secondary materials costs are based on production costs but also regulatory [waste] restrictions and sufficient collection of recyclable materials and the recyclability of waste materials in an economic way and technical feasibility. Both are sold on the same market to the producing industry, but primary and secondary raw materials have different supply chains, different production cost and market mechanisms. Secondary raw materials can be cheaper or dearer than primary materials, but the relationship between the patterns varies.”

The presentation also examined how there can be a mismatch between supply and demand for secondary raw materials.  Farhner described the difficulties faced by buyers who need large volumes of consistent quality, reliable supply and at low and competitive costs, which is a challenge with secondary products, while recyclers who deal with variable volumes and unreliable input qualities struggle to find buyers at economic conditions matching their production cost.

“The consequence is that the markets for secondary raw materials need stimulation and the Circular Economy Action Plan recognises this already. Stimulation could mean the requirement for recycled content in new products and financial incentives or tax benefits when using secondary raw materials. Recyclers call on the European Commission to devise stimulation measures. We need to create stable markets for recycled materials that are independent from current raw material market patterns. The Action Plan must lead to strong action and not be watered down. The WEEE Recycling industry is in strong support of the Circular Economy Action Plan,” he concluded.

Presenting on ‘Fast Tracks a requirement for circular economy of electronics waste?’, Chris Slijkhuis  argued that while the EU principle for the free movement of goods involves the removal of all trade barriers between the member states, once a product or article is lawfully placed on the market, this principle does not count for recyclable wastes.  The Waste Shipment Regulation restricts the cross-border traffic of wastes and an ever-increasing amount of wastes types need notifications.  

“This is a hugely complex administrative procedure, which involves much time and money. For recycling companies, this is a competitive disadvantage compared to the producers of primary raw materials which can move freely within Europe,” he said.

Slijkhuis’ presentation outlined the concept of “Fast-Track Notifications” facilitating recyclable wastes to move more easily between compliant recycling companies within the EU.

“The concept is worked out by a project group. The review for the Waste Shipment regulation is ongoing as are the proposals for changing the very complex, time consuming and therefore expensive system.  The financial guarantees immobilize over 1 billion Euros in capital. Simplified, quicker and less costly concepts are required to facilitate the development of the circular economy. As secondary raw materials compete with primary raw materials which can move freely, the development of a Circular Economy in the EU simply shouts for simplifications in the waste shipment rules for recyclable wastes.  WEEE materials are valuable recyclables,” he concluded. 

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