Innovating Toward a Circular Economy
March 5, 2018
How one Irish Not For Profit Supports a Circular WEEE Economy
WEEE Ireland has been a proud member of the WEEE Forum for over a decade. The Forum supported the Irish Scheme in its early development and WEEE Ireland in turn has mentored newer Schemes across Europe and beyond in their start up phases. The WEEE Forum provides a Global Centre of Excellence for stakeholders committed to sharing best practice experience in waste electrical equipment environmental management, including application of WEEELABEX quality recycling standards, to drive better recovery of resources from Europe’s electrical waste streams. Working with other industry groups the WEEE Forum have brought their level of shared expertise to the research field. Recent project developments showcase how they are working towards a more circular WEEE economy across the value chain on behalf of Producers of electrical and electronic equipment.
In an attempt to respond to recyclers’ quest for information about the presence of materials and components in electronic waste that require separate treatment, producers and producer responsibility organisations have teamed up to create “Information for Recyclers – I4R”, a unique one-stop source platform aimed at providing a whole range of information and guidance on how to handle WEEE: http://www.i4r-platform.eu
DIGITALEUROPE and CECED, jointly with the WEEE Forum, an international association of producer responsibility organisations and a centre of competence, are launching today a common online platform – the Information for Recyclers Platform (I4R). This new platform will allow recyclers to access information about the presence and location of materials and components that need separate treatment . The WEEE Forum will host and maintain the platform.
“We wish to drive solutions to this problem, and the I4R platform is key to better inform managers in the recycling industry and to train workers on safety issues”, said Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, DIGITALEUROPE’s Director General. “By providing information at product group level, the I4R platform will help recyclers to optimise sorting where applicable”, she added.
“The added value of the I4R platform will not only benefit recyclers and the industry, but also all European citizens. It is another example of industries working together to contribute to a Circular Society, this time by supporting recycling and secondary raw material recovery” CECED’s Director-General, Paolo Falcioni emphasised.
“The I4R platform is a major step forward in improving treatment processes, and of compliance in general”, says Pascal Leroy, Secretary General at the WEEE Forum. “Easily accessible information about the presence of batteries, printed circuit boards or plastics containing brominated flame retardants in e-waste is what recyclers require”.
Article 15 of Directive 2012/19/EU on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) requires producers of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) to provide information free of charge about preparation for re-use and treatment for each type of EEE placed on the market. In 2005 CECED and DIGITALEUROPE, speaking for manufacturers of home appliances and ICT / consumer electronics, and the electronics recyclers at EERA reached an agreement on the format of this information. Since then, manufacturers have been collecting the information in a harmonized reporting format for each product on their website. Today, they are launching a common online platform.
International consortium showcases the future for recycled materials data
Component makers encouraged to engage in debate on secondary raw materials use
At its Information Network event in Brussels on the 18th October 2016, ProSUM, an international consortium led by the WEEE Forum, outlined its plans for an EU Urban Mine Knowledge Data Platform. For the first time, data about materials arising in WEEE (e-waste), end-of-life vehicles, batteries and mining wastes are being collated in one place. Future users of the data discussed how the data could be of use to them. End-users included product manufacturers, recyclers, researchers, NGOs and policy makers. A key talking point of the day was that component manufacturers are largely missing in the debate on secondary raw materials use and recycling.
Pascal Leroy, Secretary General at the WEEE Forum, said “The lack of reliable harmonised data has long been a barrier to quantifying the potential availability of recycled raw materials. This project is a significant step forward in improving understanding. For e-waste alone we have already improved the picture for stocks and flows of end of life products.”
At the IN annual event on the 18th October, the ProSUM consortium shared with over 70 stakeholders the achievements of the project so far e.g. the development of a new, harmonised data classification system and early insights into the data collation so far. Stakeholders shared their views on their data and intelligence needs and a range of options were discussed for how data should be presented and what future additional services and work is needed. Sarah Downes, ProSUM Project Leader, said “I am delighted with the interest we are getting in the project and we now have over 200 members in our Information Network. The project will only be a success if our stakeholders, or end-users, have data and intelligence which is meaningful to them. At the end of the day, these are the people who will drive recycling forward.”
Stakeholders noted that there is a lack of participation in the Information Network from the automotive sector and component manufacturers, yet they are key decision makers and intelligence holders on what materials are used in parts. These organisations are being encouraged to join the Information Network.
Data on primary and secondary raw materials, in particular critical raw material (CRM) content, are available to varying extents in Europe. Until now though it has been difficult to access and compare this data because it is presented and aggregated in different ways and scattered amongst a number of government agencies, universities, NGOs and industry. The ProSUM (Prospecting Secondary raw materials in the Urban mine and Mining Wastes) project addresses this issue by setting up an Information Network of experts and stakeholders and developing the EU Urban Mine Knowledge Data Platform (EU-UMKDP) to access all available, harmonised data. The project is focussed on products and wastes containing CRM, critical to today’s high tech society. This includes electrical and electronic equipment, vehicles, batteries and mining wastes. The Information Network seeks to co-ordinate effort to collect harmonised secondary CRM data to improve the knowledge base across stakeholder groups in the EU. The project will construct a comprehensive inventory mapping CRM stocks and flows at national levels across Europe. This will be accessed by a user-friendly portal with data filtering capability, advanced search capabilities, statistics computation, automated report generation and map visualisations. It will also be possible link data with primary raw materials data from the Minerals4EU project. To maintain and expand the data in the future, protocols, standards and recommendations will be made for both the EU-UMKDP and concerning improvements in the knowledge base for secondary raw materials.
Ultimately, ProSUM aims to provide better information for policy makers to shape the transition to a circular economy, for academia to define research priorities and for industry to source and recycle more secondary raw materials. Through the Information Network it also aims to bring together a wide range of actors in the value chain to improve the knowledge base and interdisciplinary collaboration.
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About WEEE Ireland
WEEE Ireland (Waste, Electrical and Electronic Equipment) is a not for profit organisation, founded by Producers of electrical and electronic appliances to help them comply with the legal obligations imposed by the EU Battery Directive 2006/66/EC and WEEE Directive 2012/19/EU. WEEE Ireland manages the collection of household WEEE, lighting equipment and batteries from authorised collection points for recycling, on behalf of its Producer members. WEEE Ireland’s objective is to provide cost effective compliance for Producers to meet the requirements of the Regulations whilst minimising the cost to the consumer All small electrical waste is recycled at our operator’s state of the art facilities in Ireland, recovering resources for use again in manufacturing. All other waste appliances and batteries collected by WEEE Ireland are prepared for recycling in Ireland with final processing carried out at specialist plants in the UK, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. www.weeeireland.ie
WEEE Irelands popular WEEE Pledge campaign provides incentives and resources for schools to get involved in battery recycling www.weeepledge.ie.