Responsible recycling key topic at European e-scrap conference
By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling
Cross-border trading of scrap electronics was a major topic at the recently-concluded International Electronics Recycling Conference in Salzburg, Austria.
Most of the discussion revolved around ethics and free trade issues, certification, and the regulatory environment.
A panel titled "Free Trade, Fair Trade or No Trade" featured a lively debate and questions centering on the choice poor people in the developing world have to make between poverty and pollution, as well as arguments that free, unrestricted trade leads companies to externalize environmental, social and human health costs. Other perspectives on the topic came from Dell, which profiled electronics refurbishment and recycling operations in Africa that adhere to strict standards, as well as the European Electronics Recyclers Association, which favors free market access for e-scrap in the European Union in accordance with WEELABEX standards.
Regarding those standards, there was a robust discussion on ways WEEELABEX and a harmonized set of standards can level the playing field between processors across Europe, as well as ways to combat the gray market recycling of consumer electronics and appliances in Eastern Europe. Speakers presented an overview of the recent WEEE Recast, which includes tougher enforcement and broader resource- and energy-efficiency requirements.