Technology and the move towards a more circular economy to be the key drivers of opportunity for the e-waste recycling industry, delegates to the International Electronics Recycling Congress IERC 2016 have heard.
Held in Salzburg, Austria, around 470 participants and 61 exhibitors came to last week's annual industry meeting. The conference programme included 30 lectures, two workshops and three excursions to the Montanwerke Brixlegg recycling plant, the Austrian recycling group Müller-Guttenbrunn and the companies Elektronik Altgeräte Recycling (EAR) and Tiroler Recycling GmbH (TRG).
In his keynote speech Dr Markus Laubscher, program manager circular economy at Royal Philips, emphasised his company’s commitment to the circular economy. However, In order to implement its aims, he said that it needs strong partners - presenting an excellent opportunity for the recycling industry.
Steve Skurnac, global president at Sims Recycling Solutions affirmed the view that recycling companies are capable of providing valuable services in terms of product design, collection and recycling initiatives.
The trend towards a circular economy, he said, offers a host of opportunities for recyclers to work together with manufacturers.
Since 2007, the IERC's International Steering Committee has presented the "IERC Honorary Award" at the event.
This year, the Award went to Steve Skurnac in recognition of his work in promoting the electronics recycling industry.
The International Steering Committee took its decision in honour of the 25 years of tireless work on international markets that has made Steve Skurnac a leading figure in the recycling industry.
Winners in previous years include the European parliamentarian Karl-Heinz Florenz, Dr Mike Biddle (MBA Polymers), Jim Puckett (Basel Action Network), Manfred Beck (Recycling International), the adventurer Dr Bertrand Piccard and the former astronaut Ron Garan.
Manufacturers Stepping Up
Other speakers too left no doubt that the recycling industry will benefit from manufacturers stepping up their efforts to develop the circular economy.
Delegates heard how the recycling industry, which is currently experiencing a tough time due to the decreasing material value of electrical and electronic waste, may see this as an interesting prospect for future development.
However, in order to make this perspective reality, above all, the manufacturers are called upon, emphasised Patrick Wiedemann, CEO of Reverse Logistics Group RLG, in his speech. It is up to them to take the initiative to develop the circular economy and thereby play a key role.
In the meantime, providers of recycling technologies were also said to be increasing their efforts to improve the material yield through continual technical innovation.
Many of the talks held at the IERC 2016 covered new methods being developed with the aim of optimising the effectiveness of treatment processes. The talks were accompanied by the exhibitors' forum, consisting of 61 companies this year.
Those taking part in the congress had the opportunity to find out which innovations are currently on the market by talking to the exhibitors at the venue. The chance to personally exchange ideas and information, maintain existing contacts and initiate new business relationships is one of the most important aspects of the IERC industry meeting.
The conference also featured speakers who described the developments of the e-waste market in selected countries.
The country reports are an integral part of the IERC. This year, Viktor Duart of IBM gave listeners an insight into the recycling market in Latin America. Jerry Powell of E-Scrap News provided information on the market situation in the U.S. and Shelagh Kerr of Electronics Product Stewardship Canada described how increased manufacturer responsibility is changing the way things are done in Canada.
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