National WEEE schemes share blueprint for 15 years of recycling success with Commissioner Vella

WEEE Forum calls for cooperation to reach ambitious e-waste collection targets

St Julians, Malta – At its 5th International Conference, hosted by WEEE Malta, the WEEE Forum celebrated its 15th anniversary and laid out its vision for a resource efficient and sustainable WEEE sector. Cooperation among all stakeholders will be key to reach the ambitious collection targets.

The WEEE Forum is the voice of thirty-one WEEE producer responsibility organisations (PROs) in Europe and Australasia. Mandated by 31,000 liable producers of electrical appliances to collect, recycle and recover to the highest treatment standards 17 million tonnes of e-waste, the PROs have worked towards the development of a European economy that is more resource efficient and sustainable.

Says Jan Vlak, President of the WEEE Forum: “The 2019 collection target of 65% of equipment sold, or 85% of WEEE generated, will be extremely challenging for almost all member states, unless we encourage cooperation among stakeholders, count all WEEE and improve law enforcement.”

Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for the Environment, European Commission, was keynote speaker at the conference. “WEEE provides a prime example of why recycling efforts pay off; and it pays off for the environment, it pays off for industry, and it pays off in jobs”. He continued: “This industry is a prime example of why we need to move from waste management to resource management, and why we have to find circular solutions.”

“Producers accept they need to finance end of life costs, but they must have authority to manage and control the cost”, adds Philip Morton, Vice President of the WEEE Forum. “Legislation needs to ensure producers’ cost responsibility is clear and they have the legal right to approve collection points, collectors and recyclers of WEEE.”

“All member states of the EU need to follow the example of the Dutch, Belgians, Irish, Lithuanians and French, and make the EN 50625 standards on collection, logistics and treatment of WEEE legally binding”, points out Pascal Leroy, Secretary General, WEEE Forum.

The high-level conference in St Julians, Malta, was held in the fringe of the EU Environment Ministers informal meeting during the Maltese EU Presidency and was addressed by both EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. The two-day conference gathered producer compliance schemes, recyclers, producers and other stakeholders to discuss three topical environmental issues: Digitisation & Innovation, Circular Economy & Resource Efficiency, and Extended Producer Responsibility.

For the past 15 years, the PROs in the WEEE Forum have been at the forefront in turning the extended producer responsibility principle into a workable and effective approach to shape WEEE policies. They have delivered on the promises of the WEEE Directive on behalf of their Members. The WEEE Forum will continue to play an important role to ascertain progress towards a circular economy and will voice both the achievements and issues of greatest concerns in the WEEE market.

More details on the WEEE Forum Conference can be found on www.weee2017.com

Comments :

Joe Attard, Chief Executive Officer, WEEE Malta
As the host country, WEEE Malta is pleased to have established new benchmarks in the quality of venue, organisation and hospitality. The inclusion of high level speakers was an added asset. The 5th International WEEE Forum conference has continued to place WEEE Malta as the leader in the WEEE Management on the island.”

John Higgins, Director General, DIGITALEUROPE
“It's almost the perfect storm for recyclers; digital transformation, multi-functional devices, pay-per-use services replacing buying a product and ever greater re-use and refurbishment are already making dramatic changes to their world. “

Paolo Falcioni, Director General, CECED
“Across the industry, there are many different approaches that all deliver circularity. These are driven by market forces, competitiveness and innovation.”

Walter Stahel, Professor and Founder, The Product-Life Institute
“Selling the functional services of EEEs instead of the goods themselves results in a much higher efficiency in the use of resources and high prevention of e-waste, but requires a shift from a Linear Industrial Economy to a Performance Economy, and similarly a shift to Space X selling space transport to NASA, instead of industry manufacturing space shuttles for NASA.”

Norbert Zonneveld, Executive Secretary, European Electronics Recyclers Association
“Stakeholders in the WEEE market need to increase their knowledge of our behaviour in relation what we are trying to achieve with our insights and attitudes towards recycling and the circular economy. Our behaviour as individuals and as society, already for some time hampers the achievement of higher collection rates and the creation of a fair level playing field for the treatment of WEEE”.

Thomas Lindhqvist, Associate Professor, Lund University
“The WEEE Directive has led to substantial improvements in the management of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment, but there are important challenges left, such as improving the recovery of critical metals and limiting the leakage of discarded products to inferior recycling treatment inside and outside of the EU.”

Alain Grimm-Hecker, President, Eco-systèmes
“To avoid double standards, Europe must impose the same high requirements in recycling activities, with a high level of control and enforcement." 

Commissioner's Karmenu Vella speech available here (video) and here (text).

European Commission's press release available here.

A selection of photos can be found here

Please see the presentations and conference materials below:

(The presentations by the other speakers can be made available upon request)