Posted on 05/11/2014 in category Convention

Recent BIR World Recycling Convention in Paris

(27-28 October 2014)

E-Scrap Committee: Enduring confusion over transboundary movement rules

In providing an update on the different rules imposed by the United Nations, OECD member countries and the EU with regard to transboundary movements of e-scrap, the BIR’s Environmental & Technical Director Ross Bartley confirmed last week that the world organisation continued to receive numerous inquiries on this subject because of a lack of clarity. “It is unclear when a waste is not listed how it is controlled; for example, in a number of countries notification is required,” he told delegates attending the BIR E-Scrap Committee meeting in Paris on October 27.

As for transboundary movement of a used good for reuse, he said, “there needs to be sufficient certainty that it will actually be reused because if it is not, its disposal may pose a threat to human health and the environment”. In the same context, the United Nations was finding agreement of the classification as waste or product for electrical and electronic equipment for repair, refurbishment and remanufacturing.

Maria Banti, WEEE Policy Officer at the European Commission’s DG Environment, outlined current issues in her area of expertise, focusing notably on a new proposal for a delegated regulation on equivalent conditions for the treatment of WEEE outside the EU - a development on which she was keen to receive BIR input. In order to count towards targets enshrined in the EU’s new WEEE Directive, treatment beyond the EU’s borders would have to take place in facilities offering the equivalent of what was available within the EU. There would also be a need to prove that the treatment conditions were indeed equivalent, she explained.

According to Ms Banti’s presentation, standards played an official role in supporting EU legislation and policy. In this context, Emmanuel Katrakis - Secretary General of the newly-formed European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) - focused on the elaboration of WEEE standards through CENELEC, the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization. While EuRIC member organisation Eurometrec believed such standards were useful, it was also urging that close attention should be paid to their practical implications, including costs.

Mr Katrakis went on to note that, when compared to manufacturers, the recycling sector was relatively under-represented on the national standardisation committees. This was “a source of concern” that needed to be addressed, he said, given that recyclers were regularly outvoted both at national and CENELEC levels.

More than 53m tonnes of electronic scrap was being generated annually, according to BIR E-Scrap Committee Chairman Thomas Papageorgiou of Anamet Recycling Industry in Greece. This volume included around 60% metals, 15% plastics and 12% CRT/LCD screens. The quantities of precious metals available for recovery from this e-scrap were “very significant” for a number of high-margin applications, he added.