Step Up Collection, Incentivise Consumers and Link WEEE with Ecodesign, Echoes EuRIC’s E-waste Recycling Event

On 3 June, EuRIC’s e-waste recycling event “Plug into sustainability: E-waste recycling”, brought together around 100 participants and various stakeholders to address the challenges in advancing circularity in electronic waste and chart the way forward for increased material recovery in the EU.

Tess Pozzi, Chair of EuRIC’s WEEE working group and Head of EU Public Affairs at Derichebourg Environnement, kicked off the meeting by emphasising the need for ambitious policies to increase the use of recycled materials in new products on the EU Market. Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea, the European Commission’s Circular Economy Director (DG ENV), highlighted the potential of the circular economy to enhance EU competitiveness, security, strategic autonomy, and decarbonisation. “Geopolitical actors with control of CRM resources have tried and are actively weaponising them”, he noted.

Ioannis Bakas, circular economy monitoring expert at the European Environment Agency (EEA), identified the need for more binding, target-oriented policies, value chain-specific strategies, high-quality recycling, strong demand, and safe and sustainable-by-design products.

The first panel on the role of e-waste in a circular economy featured Fanny Rateau (ECOS), Pascal Leroy (WEEE Forum), Korrina Hegarty (APPLiA), Ulf Arnesson (Stena Metalls), John Wante (Belgian Federal Ministry of Environment), and Dr. Annett Linemann (H.B Fuller/FEICA). They called for enhanced and increased collection, including while products are still repairable, prevention of illegal e-waste exports, better dialogue between recyclers and manufacturers, consumer incentives, easier product disassembly and longer lifespan, and technologically neutral legislation.

“We should be considered as producers of recycled raw materials, not just recyclers,” urged Christian Winkler(Remondis Electrorecycling), presenting the high-quality output material that the recycling industry is able to produce due to continuous investments.

The second panel discussion on closing the loop in the e-plastics value chain featured Laura Baillargeon (EU Commission, DG Grow), Pablo Leon (Sostenplas), Federico Magalini(Dss+) and Judit Guerra-Falcon (Plastics Europe). They stressed the need for a concrete methodology for recycled content targets, thorough assessments before decisions, a level playing field with foreign actors, addressing export challenges posed by the new waste shipment rules, and ways to create resilient supply chains for plastics.

The DG Grow official outlined the challenges for recycled plastic in Europe, including competition with virgin plastics, cheaper imported recycled plastics, and the competitiveness of the EU plastic recycling industry. She also called for a reality check to ensure new EU measures are feasible and profitable for recyclers.

EuRIC extends its gratitude to all speakers for their valuable insights, to our moderator for facilitating the discussions, and to participants from all the different sectors, including recyclers, EPR schemes, NGOs, electronics manufacturers, research bodies, and EU officials. The event sent a strong message: e-waste recycling and ecodesign must go hand-in-hand. To achieve e-waste circularity, incentives for recyclers, consumer empowerment, and a legal framework with fit-for-purpose targets and provisions that ensure a level playing field and drive demand for recycled materials within the EU are necessary.

Source: EuRIC (Brussels, June 6, 2024)