As has been reported in the previous edition of this newsletter, after more than four years of intensive work, the WEEELABEX project, co-financed by the LIFE programme of the European Union, has come to a successful end. The WEEELABEX organisation, a legal entity headquartered in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, will henceforth train auditors in the WEEELABEX standards (or equivalent) and promote the adoption of these standards by operators and member states as a means to improve WEEE management practices in Europe.
The WEEE Forum community of producer responsibility organisations continues to take on the challenge of electrical and electronic waste in other respects as well. In this edition, you will find out more on initiatives undertaken by WEEE Forum member organisations in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Czech Republic and Norway.
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Global rating system EPEAT recognises WEEELABEX standards
WEEELABEX, the leading European electronics recycler standard, has met the environmental requirements of EPEAT, a global rating system for greener electronics. This qualification makes it easier for manufacturers to register their electronics with EPEAT in Europe. WEEELABEX is among the only recycling standards to meet the EPEAT requirements for responsible recycling of electronics.
For some years now, producer compliance schemes in the WEEE Forum have been using WF-RepTool, a web-based software tool that allows them and their suppliers to report recycling and recovery results and de-pollution of WEEE in accordance with the WEEELABEX standards. The group now goes one step further by making the tool directly available to recyclers.
On 15 April, the day before the 2013 Take Back conference, organised by Asekol, an event in the Lobkowicz castle in Prague celebrated the official end of the WEEELABEX project. A number of individuals received a warm applause for their enthusiasm and strong commitment to the project, in particular Mónica Luizio (Amb3E) and Martin Fišer (Asekol) on behalf of more than 100 WEEE experts in the different working groups and task forces, René-Louis Perrier (EcoLogic) and Christian Brabant (Eco-systèmes) as chairpersons of the project’s steering group, Richard Toffolet (Eco-systèmes) as convenor of the task force that deals with methodology issues, Jan Vrba (Asekol) as convenor of the CRT working group, Andreas Röthlisberger (SENS eRecycling) and José Ramón Carbajosa as former and current Presidents of the WEEE Forum, and Pascal Leroy (WEEE Forum) as project manager and secretary general. ‘Climbing Mt WEEELABEX’ was the metaphor throughout the project, so the project manager was aptly invited to climb the mountain to get a special copy of the WEEELABEX standards.
Following the introduction of the WEEELABEX standards in April 2011, twenty-six waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) compliance schemes have joined together to set up an official WEEELABEX organisation, which will help to implement these standards across Europe. The organisation, created on 17 April in Prague, is an international non-profit legal entity. It has been set-up to train auditors in the WEEELABEX standards, as well as to promote the adoption of these standards by operators and member states as a means to improve WEEE management practices in Europe.
A newly recruited managing director will soon start office.
Contact: Jaroslav Vladik, chairman of the WEEELABEX Governing Council
Belgium – Highlights of Recupel’s 2012 Annual Report
Following its commitment to implement new ways to get even closer to the citizen and with the drive to continually do better, Recupel, the Belgian member of the WEEE Forum, pioneered further innovative initiatives during 2012. The ‘Charter collectors’ have helped increasing the collection levels. According to Peter Sabbe, General Manager, “the existing collection channels maintained their levels of activity, and we recorded a slight increase in collected WEEE of 1.4% thanks to the new collection channels, namely the ‘Charter collectors’. There are now many more Charter collectors than last year – and the volume of WEEE that they’ve collected has even doubled. Our intention is to convince even more shopping points to become collection points.”
In addition, Recupel allowed for one-off collection at company sites. The project ‘Recupel on Tour’ aims at informing the consumers about good disposal practices. And, finally, a 3D animation film about the recycling cycle explains Recupel’s activities to a general public that’s not familiar with such a subject.
The 2012 ‘Benelux Excellence Award’ (EFQM), issued by Bbest, provided recognition to Recupel’s work towards a more efficient management of WEEE in Belgium.
The Czech Republic is among the first countries in Europe to implement a solar panels take-back scheme. There are more than 2.000 MW of installed solar panels in 22.000 solar power plants. This represents around 200.000 tons of future waste from PV modules. The national law implementing take back obligations for solar panels was approved in 2012 and put into force in 2013.
Both producers of PV modules and operators of solar power plants are required to organise and finance the solar panels take-back. Registration is required by 30 June 2013. ASEKOL Solar, ASEKOL’s subsidiary company, assists both producers and operators in fulfilling their obligations. ASEKOL Solar is one of the two solar take-back compliance schemes officially approved by the Czech Ministry of Environment.
Contact: Jan Vrba
Italy – Ecodom Sustainability Report 2012
In 2012 Ecodom confirmed its status as Italy’s leading producer compliance scheme in terms of quantities of WEEE processed: 71.953 tonnes, 30% by weight of the entire household WEEE collected in Italy. Moreover, despite the difficult context in which Ecodom was called upon to operate (with a drop in the quantities of WEEE managed by the Italian official system), Ecodom has reiterated its commitment to improving its environmental, economic and social performances.
- 35.931 tons of R1;
- 35.690 tons of R2;
- 332 tons of R4;
- 62.000 tons of secondary raw materials recycled (including 44.700t of iron, 1.700t of aluminum, 2.000t of copper, 7.000t of plastic);
- 270.000 GJ of energy saved, equivalent to the annual consumption of 66.000 people;
- 790.000 tons of CO2 non-emitted, equivalent to the annual CO2 absorption of a forest of 800 km2.
Ecodom, thanks to the efficient management of its operations, also suspended the levying of the WEEE recycling fees on new products with effect from April 2012. Ecodom is eager to pass on the benefits of its operating improvements to consumers.
No country sells more new mobile phones per capita than Norway. The question therefore is: Should the mobile phones, which consumers dispose of yet are still fully usable, be used elsewhere in the world or should they be recovered so that the raw materials can be made available for the manufacturing of new products?
In 2009, Telenor, a mobile phone maker, was among the first to start a national collection and recycling campaign for used mobile phones. They are making a contribution both to local communities – through their ‘used mobile new opportunities’ campaign and supporting clubs that collect mobile phones – and to the environment, by prolonging the useful lives of the mobile phones that are collected. The phones that are collected are counted and registered with Elretur’s subsidiary company Alternativ Data, which sorts the mobile phones before sending them to Britain for erasing, cleaning and sale.
PV Cycle and Retela, one of the Czech members of the WEEE Forum, announced in April 2013 that they have started to collaborate in the area of PV module take-back and recycling on the Czech market. Bringing Retela’s unmatched expertise will enable PV Cycle to serve the Czech photovoltaic value chain actors under the current Waste Act.
Within the collaboration, Retela will take on operative and administrative take-back and recycling duties for PV producers and plant operators in the Czech Republic. PV Cycle will, in its role as adviser, will bring its expertise in PV waste management to the collaboration and will help in the strategic setting of Retela’s PV value proposition for the Czech waste market.
Pursuant to last year’s adoption of Directive 2012/19/EU on WEEE, the Dutch government is drafting a new law that will enter into force on 14 February 2014. The WEEELABEX standards will be part of this new law, which will introduce the requirement of new minimum standards for recycling WEEE. Not only recycling companies, but also municipalities who perform dismantling activities will have to meet these standards. Wecycle will very likely manage the new independent national Dutch register for all recycled e-waste.