Issue: Feb 2011


10th International Electronics Recycling Congress (IERC 2011)



EU: stop illegal exports of e-scrap

by Jon Knox

The European Union is concerned about the ongoing illegal exports of e-waste to non-OECD countries, especially to developing countries where the material is not treated in an environmental way. This was one of the key issues discussed at the 10th International Electronics Recycling Congress (IERC 2011) held last month in Salzburg, Austria. The EU is currently investigating how to resolve this issue. 

According to Rosalinde van der Vlies of the European Environment Directorate General, around 52% of the e-scrap arisings in the EU is not accounted for and is probably exported. ‘Cost and opportunity combined are the drivers off illegal exports,’ she said. One of the solutions could be to ‘export’ (global) standards and recycling technologies. Other approaches to tackle the e-scrap export problem could include the improvement of collection and reporting mechanisms and improved monitoring of compliance with legal obligations. 

Eric Harris, Director Governmental and International Affairs of the US recycling association ISRI, said his organisation does not in principle object to e-scrap exports to, for instance African countries. ‘These exports generate jobs and income for the people in Africa’, he said. Mr Harris agreed with Mrs Van der Vlies that efforts should be made to bring recycling of e-scrap in developing countries to a higher and environmentally sound level. While condemning illegal or shame recycling practices, Mr Harris reinforced the need to not criminalise legal trade and to ensure a competitive, global marketplace. ISRI policy supports trading with facilities that are legal and can demonstrate environmental and health and safety standards anywhere in the world.
However, enacting legislation is one thing, enforcing them is another, stated Klaus Willke of the urban development and environment agency of the city of Hamburg said that it would be unjust to point to the port authorities in Europe as being responsible for the illegal exports of e-scrap. ‘We have a very small staff to carry out random checks of containers,’ he said. He ventured that there was a large ‘grey’ market for e-waste beside the official EU WEEE management system. 

The 10th International Electronics Recycling Congress IERC 2011, organized by Swiss company ICM AG took place in Salzburg, Austria from January 19 – 21, 2011 and attracted a record attendance of more than 450 delegates from 39 countries. In addition, the event drew 47 exhibitors to the parallel trade show - including equipment manufacturers and service providers. Over the years, IERC has become the international platform for discussion of the latest developments and challenges relating to worldwide waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

The 11th International Electronics Recycling Congress IERC 2012 will take place from January 18 – 20, 2012 in Salzburg, Austria.

More information at:
ICM AG, International Congress & Marketing, Susann Schmid, Schwaderhof 7,
5708 Birrwil, Switzerland, Tel.: +41 62 785 10 00, info@icm.ch, www.icm.ch  


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