Over the last decades, the European recycling industries have drastically evolved by modernizing and constantly innovating to turn more waste streams into new resources. By doing so, the sector has contributed to the development of new technologies and automated equipment made in Europe and exported around the globe. The European regulatory framework has accompanied these changes thanks to ambitious targets and a meaningful waste hierarchy. However, the recycling sector continues to be subject to a complex and ever-growing EU regulatory framework, which affects its activities. To ensure a competitive European recycling sector, which is part of a global industry, EuRIC advocates clear, effective and smart European policies which:
- Incentivise recycling across the value chains;
- Minimise regulatory burdens on recyclers, in particular on SMEs;
- Guarantee an open and fair competition within Europe and with the world to foster a genuine internal recycling market.
EuRIC also advocates positive measures to ensure a consistent implementation of existing legislation across Europe.
Characterisation of fires caused by batteries in WEEE
More and more electrical and electronic products in everyday life contain batteries, making life more convenient or pleasant. However, those same batteries, when damaged, also increasingly cause these products to catch fires.
In the past few months, organisations representative of the industry that manages the collection and treatment of spent batteries and electronic waste (WEEE) and of manufacturers of home appliances and consumer electronics gathered to exchange views about this issue of growing concern in order to design measures to counter the frequent occurrence of fires. A survey among recyclers resulted in a better understanding of the issue of fires in the WEEE management chain. The report, “Characterisation of fires caused by batteries in WEEE”, has been prepared by EuRIC and the WEEE Forum with the active contribution of experts from various organisations including the co-signatories namely EERA, EUCOBAT, Municipal Waste Europe and the WEEELABEX Organisation. It seeks to jointly assess the severity of the issue.
The survey shows that the number of fires in the WEEE management chain is going up and that the fires mainly occur in mixed WEEE. Damaged batteries are seen as responsible for those fires.
“Battery fires are one of the most important issue impacting recyclers currently” says Emmanuel Katrakis, Secretary General at EuRIC, the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation. “This fact-based report confirms that fires occur at every stage of the collection and treatment of WEEE, but we see a higher prevalence during treatment and at the logistics and pre-treatment stages during storage”, the survey tells us that for most fires, there is a high prevalence of frequent yet small thermal events that cause no or little damage. The most severe fires identified by respondents were mostly described as intense fires and lasting between 1 to 6 hours. More than a third of the respondents reports one of those severe fires. The report roughly estimates the average costs associated to most frequent fires in 190 000 €, and 1.3 M€ for most severe fires.
The report includes a set of recommendations to further investigate some aspects that were addressed in the survey, but for which an in-depth analysis is key to have a better grasp of the issue. This includes for instance consequences for the reuse sector, the efficiency of the rules concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by road (ADR), or the detailed cost breakdown of damages caused by battery fires.
“This report provides a set of facts and figures”, says Pascal Leroy, Director General at the WEEE Forum, the international voice of e-waste producer responsibility organisations. “It was extremely important to carry out that work collectively in a Roundtable, gathering the most relevant representative organisations in order to develop a shared understanding of the issues of concern. A follow-up report will analyse best practices to tackle fires associated with batteries”, he added.
EuRIC unveils Metal Recycling Brochure
EuRIC is pleased to publish a factsheet on Metal Recycling highlighting the importance of both ferrous and non-ferrous metal recycling and their substantial benefits for the environment and the economy in Europe.
The Brochure outlines the environmental benefits, the economic and international trade aspects of steel, aluminum and copper recycling.
EuRIC Position on WEEE Treatment Standards
To level the playing field in WEEE treatment at European level, EuRIC supports laying down mandatory minimum quality standards based on the WEEE treatment standards developed by CENELEC provided they:
- Are based on 50625 treatment standards developed by CENELEC.
- Distinguish informative from normative requirements as provided by the mandate M/518 with such a distinction to be made by a third independent expert and verified by the European Commission;
- Costs of implementation of binding minimum quality standards, in particular the costs of auditing, shall be continuously covered by Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Schemes or by Member States (MS)
EuRIC Statement on issues stemming from the lack of capacity for ultimate residual waste
EuRIC has been informed by multiple recycling operators active in different parts of Europe of strong difficulties in finding outlets for ultimate residual waste treatment and disposal stemming from recycling processes of different industrial and commercial waste as well as of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and End-of-Life Vehicles (ELVs). Shredder light fraction (SLF) having a high calorific value and ultimate residual waste resulting from post-treatment techniques used to minimize the amount of residual waste which can no longer be materially recovered are directly affected. In the absence of current treatment or disposal options respectively in incineration with or without waste-to-energy or final disposal for the fractions with high calorific value, some recycling companies have been forced to stop their entire mechanical recycling operations, permanently or temporary.
EuRIC is pleased to highlight some key elements linked to the lack of capacity and obstacles to the acceptance of ultimate residual waste from industrial and commercial waste as well as WEEE and ELV mechanical recycling.
Position on the Harmonized classification and Labelling for Cobalt Metal
EuRIC, the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation, is substantially concerned by the proposal made by the Netherlands for harmonized classification of Cobalt metal. The proposal as it stands will significantly disrupt the value chain for steel, be it stainless or carbon steel, as well as for specialty alloys and will have a very negative impact on their recycling.
International Green Deal North Sea Resources Roundabout to work on new case: ‘Fast-Tracks’ for WEEE
EuRIC was proud to attend the first kick-off meeting of this Green Deal aiming to make shimpments of secondary raw materials faster and easier. ‘Fast-Tracks’ is the fifth case for the International Green Deal North Sea Resources Roundabout (NSRR) - after compost, PVC and non-ferrous metals from bottom ash and struvite. The case, initiated by Müller-Guttenbrunn GmbH and HKS Metals deals with the concept of ‘Fast-Tracks’ for WEEE: making shipments to compliant EU WEEE recyclers easier and faster. Article 14 of the European Waste Shipment Regulation provides ample basis for the concept of ‘Fast-Track Notification’, but implementation can be improved. For this case Flemish, French, UK and Dutch public and private sector experts are joined by Austrian colleagues to explore possibilities for commonly accepted criteria for pre-consents and mutual accepted processes, amongst other things. The Commission (DGENV) is following the case as an observer.
Inapplicability of the “Study to assess the impacts of different classification approaches for hazard property "HP 14" to fluff-light fraction and dust from shredding of metal containing waste
EuRIC urges the European Commission and the Technical Adaptation Committee (TAC) to refrain from approving any proposal and regulatory changes relying on chemical analysis for the assessment of the ecotoxic property of waste HP 14 applicable to fluff-light fraction and dust from shredding of metal containing waste (19 10 03*/19 10 04) until a proper harmonized method fit for the purpose of characterising complex solid waste streams is set up.
Joint call for concrete actions to implement article 15 of the WEEE Directive on Information for Treatment facilities
European industry organisations representing waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) repair, re-use and recycling operators and environmental non-governmental organisations, call on the European Commission to speed up the process aimed at implementing Article 15 of the WEEE Directive 2012/19/EU.
EuRIC Concrete proposals to implement article 15 of the WEEE Directive
EuRIC proposals aim at
- Providing practical inputs in order to guide the implementation of article 15;
- Framing the work to be done by all relevant stakeholders in order to guarantee a target oriented debate with clear deliverables;
- Supporting the cooperation with EEE manufacturers in order to develop fit for purpose measures.
EuRIC Concrete Proposals about Eco-design for WEEE
EuRIC proposals, based on the inputs of experts from companies recycling Waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) as well as from Members’ Recycling Federations, aim at supporting the implementation of the actions foreseen by the European Union in the field of eco-design and the cooperation with manufacturers in order to improve sustainable design and manufacturing of products.