In addressing the 5th International WEEE Forum Conference in Malta on 26th April, CECED Director-General Paolo Falcioni sought to emphasise the vital contribution the home appliance sector could continue to make as well as what it had already achieved over many years.
Addressing key e-waste actors from across Europe, he emphasised the various tools available to encourage resource efficiency and circularity. Market forces, competitiveness and innovation were key to unlock the sector’s future potential for the three stages in question: product creation; product use; recycling and reuse of material resources. Across the industry, there are many different approaches that all deliver circularity: targeting at-source waste production, i.e. reducing the quantity of material used in the creation of products and increasing the efficiency with which products, once created, are used; using more sustainable alternative materials (irrespective of quantity) and/or extending product lifetime (including repair /refurbishment allowing for re-use); and/or undertaking actions at end-of-life, such as recycling or recovery.
Interconnectivity and smart appliances have the potential to drive forward positively the circular economy, he added.
Mr Falcioni also reminded his audience of the very considerable investments and efforts the home appliance industry had made over many years taking care of an estimated annual 3.2million tonnes of WEEE.
It remains vital to capture all WEEE and all actors need to deliver this, he emphasised. Currently much of e-waste escapes control. Meanwhile many actors, not necessarily subject to the same reporting and treatment requirements that the home appliance respects, were treating e-waste as a business opportunity. “We also need to look at how to better capture small WEEE”, he underlined.
Better enforcement of standards for promoting WEEE recycling would help boost Europe’s secondary market in raw materials, he stressed.
Paolo Falcioni highlighted that any potential future requirements for product design, for example on reparability, durability or recyclability should only be considered if their need was clearly demonstrated via a clear, transparent, objective methodology, and then robust parameters underpinned by standardisation, that could be measured, verified and demonstrated to be relevant. Such an approach has been largely responsible for the success of current requirements that focused on consumer product energy consumption.
Any new requirements should also have relevant additional environmental benefit, he said. There should be no shift in focus from energy to resource efficiency requirements without clear, robust impact assessments, product-by-product, explaining the merits of the shift.
To conclude, he underlined that any future policy development must be evidence-based and not driven by myths. CECED was currently making analysis to enhance the dataset available for the sector.
More about the event at: WEEE Forum Conference, Malta