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Zonneveld warns: recycling rates are going down

‘The gap in trust between authorities, policy makers, politicians and the electronics recycling industry is too wide. We need to work on closing this gap by jointly expressing that we are proud of what we are doing for them and for the public – and what our contribution is to the aspirations of our European society.’

So said Norbert Zonneveld, founder and former executive secretary of the European electronics recyclers body EERA during the latest International Electronics Recycling Congress (IERC) in Salzburg, Austria.

He insisted it was essential to change the way things are done in the electronics recycling business. ‘Improvements are needed in supplying the feedstock for treatment,’ he said, adding that innovation in recycling technologies was absolutely necessary ‘because the products which are now being developed are far more complex than they ever have been.’

Ad hoc legislation

According to Zonneveld, current technology is inadequate and recycling rates are going down. ‘This negative trend is at times reinforced by ad hoc legislation, which is the result of satisfying sentiments rather than being based upon scientific arguments. This must change.’

He also said it was crucial to have a realistic view on the circular economy, which can certainly create more jobs but cannot be realised without higher costs. ‘We know from all the alarming signs in nature and in our civil society that it is necessary to be far more innovative in our thinking and in our actions.

‘We also know that it cannot be done by only a few people but that it must be achieved by joining all our resources both intellectually as well as practically. So let us continue making the effort and aiming at the goals which we have to achieve.’

Norbert Zonneveld stepped down as frontman of EERA on 1 January. At the Salzburg conference he received the IERC Honorary Award, which is presented each year to inspirational figures and leaders from the recycling sector.

The full IERC conference report will be published in the March/April issue of Recycling International.

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