INFO: WEEE Forum compliance schemes visit Norway

The WEEE Forum is an association that speaks for more than 30 producer responsibility schemes from across the EU that collect and manage proper recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). On 22-23 September 2016, the WEEE Forum held its General Assembly in Oslo, hosted by Elretur and RENAS, its two Norwegian member organisations.

“Elretur has been an active promoter of the WEEE Forum in its early days and have used WF-RepTool, the WEEE Forum’s bespoke reporting tool, for reporting and downstream monitoring purposes”, says Pascal Leroy, Secretary General of the WEEE Forum. WF-RepTool is a tool that has given Elretur’s customers a complete overview of what WEEE has been recycled to, down to the smallest fractions. “After RENAS joined WEEE Forum in 2015 the Norwegian members represent 80% of the Norwegian market and almost twenty years of experience with running producer responsibility schemes. This allows WEEE Forum to tap into success stories that are sometimes different for a country from outside of the EU”.

At the occasion of the GA, the group visited Revetal and Revac’s recycling facility. Revac has become a significant player on the Norwegian recycling market for WEEE and is owned by four leaders of the company: Anders Aas, Frank Holm, Glenn Hansen and Thomas Stange. Due to a fire, the facility was re-built brand new. Fireproofing is taken further at this facility than in other places and a separate mini fire station is also available on site.

Guests from the WEEE Forum took note of the closed loop Revac has at their facility: A separate line of plastics-sorting, with shredding, granulation and float-sink technology. Receiving and weighing of all types of WEEE and finished production of pure new ingredients take place at the plant. It saves Revac in logistics, and it is beneficial for both the environment and the economics, management pointed out.

“The circular economy is very visible at this facility”, said one of the delegates of the WEEE Forum. Thor Christian Wiik Svendsen, Elretur's Technical Director, presented to all participants the collection rates and recycling figures from Norway as among the world's highest, eliciting many questions. Why is Norway so skilled in recycling? Wiik Svendsen listed the density of free collection points as a success factor. “Norway is the only country in Europe where all retailers selling electrical products have for over 17 years taken back WEEE.

Bjørn Arild Thon, Managing Director of RENAS highlights that one of Norway’s advantages is that they have total control over what is put on market through customs statistics. Government controlled import data also makes the problem of so called ‘free riders’ manageable. “A key success factor however,” Thon says “is that the producers themselves at a very early stage agreed to introduce the producer responsibility model even before this was part of Norwegian legislation. This led to a high level of commitment to the model and a sense of responsibility and ownership that spurs continuous improvements and good recycling results.”