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‘Excessive’ restrictions make life tough for e-scrap business

Increased and ever-complex regulation surrounding e-scrap is erecting barriers to recycling, experts lamented during a webinar hosted by the BIR world recycling organisation.

Excessive restrictions on many of the materials contained within e-scrap ‘hinder circularity instead of promoting it,’ argued Thomas Papageorgiou of Greece-based Anamet. Robin Wiener, president of the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries said legislative ‘over-reach’ in a bid to find rapid solutions to high-profile problems such as ocean plastics was affecting the legitimate trade in materials.

This view was echoed by Josephita Harry of Pan American Zinc who spoke of ‘a big lack of awareness’ among policy-makers ‘making life difficult for recyclers’.

Their comments were made in the context of two earlier presentations. The webinar concentrated initially on a proposal at Basel Convention level to impose notification procedures on non-hazardous e-wastes for trans-boundary shipment.

High level sorting has a cost

A subsequent presentation from BIR International Environment Council chairman Olivier François of Galloo included a video highlighting the sophistication of the industrial-scale processes required to recover high-quality, consumer-ready plastics from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and other sources.

His company has employed heavy media separation to sort plastics containing hazardous brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from plastic streams. However, he explained this process was viable only because the high costs of disposing of the separated BFR-containing fraction were being met by French extended producer responsibility schemes.

More scrap in new products?

François also says his ‘vision’ for recycling included ‘an obligation for incorporation of recycled plastics into new goods’. China Sustainable Plastics Association executive president Steve Wong of Fukutomi agreed that, from a legislative perspective, more had to be done to increase the recycled content of new products to promote optimal use of resources.

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