A new legislative proposal at EU level could make the recycling of plastics from Electronic Waste (WEEE) impossible. EERA is therefore calling for a course correction.
Plastic recycling is good for people and the environment – and indispensable for the future. Compared to newly manufactured plastics, one metric ton of recycled plastic saves three to four metric tons of CO2. In addition, only ten percent of the energy requirement is needed compared to the production of virgin plastics from oil. A formal life cycle analysis by the Swiss research institute EMPA shows that plastics recycling is by far the best option compared to both the combustion of old plastics and the production of new plastics linkIntelligent technologies ensure that the plastics with hazardous substances from old electronic equipment are separated and destroyed in incineration plants instead of being reprocessed. Examples of these hazardous substances are cadmium in old colouring compounds or certain brominated flame retardants that are no longer permitted.
The housing of old CRT monitors, for example, can contain as much as 150,000 ppm brominated flame retardants (ppm = parts per million). With modern separation technologies, responsible WEEE plastics recyclers are able to recycle these E-Waste materials so that the recycled plastics do not contain more than 1,000 ppm of these flame retardants. EERA just published the brochure link: Responsible recycling of WEEE plastics, containing BFR.
A legal change as a threat.
We are therefore all the more dismayed to note that a current draft law at EU level could means the end of plastics recycling from waste electrical and electronic equipment in Europe. This is in stark contradiction to the targeted Circular Economy plans or the ambitious targets for the recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment that the EU has defined. Nevertheless, European politicians have presented a draft legislative change law with unrealistic limit values for one particular substance. The proposal is neither substantiated nor feasible by scientific studies. If limit values cannot be measured, they cannot be achieved even by the most innovative plastics recyclers.
EERA advocate changes
EERA has put the urgent issue on their agenda to convince European politicians that it is impossible to recycle if limit values are below the measurable range. EuRIC (link) did the same. The two associations therefore call either for the proposals to be withdrawn or for them to be reviewed for values that are measurable and consistent with other European legislation on the subject. The position of EERA can be found here: EERA