Circular Economy

The e-waste market and its relation to the circular economy

Recently, around 450 industry representatives from 39 different nations came to Salzburg for the International Electronics Recycling Congress (IERC) to speak on the current developments in the 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. Three keynote speakers opened the congress – Aaron Goldberg, and expert on the Basel Convention; Steven Clayton, regulatory affairs manager at Samsung; and Dr Janez Potocnik, co-chair of the UN International Resource Panel and former EU Environment Commissioner.

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 solutions and smart separation and 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. 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 e-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.

For the first time, the IERC 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 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.