European Commission affirms that collective producer model is essential to finance waste recycling without increased public expenditure

At the inauguration of the annual Recyclia event, EcoEncuentro 2017, Daniel Calleja, Director General for Environment of the European Commission, underlined the importance of the collective management model for end-of-life electronic equipment in order to finance selective collection and recycling of this waste type without the need for greater public expenditure. Calleja pointed out that this model, through which producers transferred to non-profit organisations, such as Recyclia, their obligation to organise and finance the recycling of the equipment they place on the market, was one of the pillars of the EU’s Circular Economy strategy.

The collective model for the management of end-of-life electronic equipment is essential in order to finance the selective collection and recycling of this type of waste without the need for greater public spending. This was pointed out by Daniel Calleja, Director General for Environment of the European Commission, speaking at the inauguration of the annual Recyclia event, EcoEncuentro 2017.

FCC Aqualia central, Inodoro

Calleja pointed out that this model, through which producers transferred to non-profit organisations, such as Recyclia, their obligation to organise and finance the recycling of the equipment they place on the market, was one of the pillars of the EU’s Circular Economy strategy.

In his welcoming speech, Luis Pérez Bermejo, president of Recyclia, emphasised the importance of the Circular Economy in the “radical improvement of the productivity of resources, safeguarding the sustainability of our environment and transforming the dynamic of competitiveness”.

From resource to resource

According to Calleja, since 2005, the year in which legislation on the environmental management of electronic equipment came into force, the EU had recycled 3.5 million tonnes of e-waste. According to European Commission forecasts, 10 million tonnes of this waste stream will be managed by 2020.

To address this scenario, Calleja advocates “extending the collective model to the remaining Member States of the European Union, which sets out minimum requirements, such as a common framework of best practices and equality of conditions for producers to ensure that those who comply with the legislation do not suffer damage from those who do not”. He added that, “in this respect, it is necessary to have greater transparency, clear definition of the responsibilities of producers, and better accounting and traceability systems”.

During his speech, Calleja also highlighted the “enormous opportunities abroad for Spanish know-how and technology in the area of waste recycling”. He went on to underline the importance of eco-design in the manufacture of electronic equipment, in order to facilitate recyclability as a means of saving natural resources and energy.

It is a question of changing the approach to electronic equipment and regarding waste as a resource”, he said. “By way of example, the manufacture of equipment requires 10% of the gold, and 30% of the silver and copper produced worldwide. Barely 1% of these raw materials is currently recovered, a situation that must change radically”.

Along the same lines, José Pérez, CEO at Recyclia, defended the effectiveness of the collective model, which had enabled the organisation to collect 230,000 tonnes since its foundation at over 50,000 proprietary collection points distributed throughout Spain.

Pérez expressed the hope “that international recognition and interest in our model on the part of the governments of countries such as Chile, Colombia, Turkey and the Ukraine will reach Spanish institutions, of whom we are demanding the final push to consolidate a system that has been demonstrating its efficiency for years”.

EcoEncuentro 2017 was held in Madrid and brought together representatives of Spanish and European public authorities, manufacturers of electronic equipment and batteries, waste managers, retail distributors and the media to analyse the challenges facing the recycling sector in the coming year of 2018.