The “Closing the Loop – Emerging Issues in Electronics Recycling” panel at the Electronics & Battery Recycling Confex offered the audience comprehensive insights into the e-waste industry from a global perspective. Speakers on this panel represented companies from India, UAE, Japan and Sri Lanka, and they analysed the emerging issues in these countries.
A.L.N Rao, CEO, Exigo Recycling Pvt Ltd, moderated the session. Youssef Chehade, Managing Partner, Ecyclex, spoke about regulations and enforcement in the UAE. “Since 2010, when the local municipalities started to bring in rules to regulate electronic waste, there has been a fairly professional ecosystem. However, enforcement is still an issue.”
Inoue Suguru, Sales Manager, DOWA Eco-System Co, said that Japan’s e-waste recycling rate is very high due to strict enforcement. He spoke about the recycling fee that is collected from the consumers for collection, transport and recycling when discarding gadgets and home appliances.
“Rules and regulations must be supported by guidelines,” pointed out Harbinder Singh, Chairman, Yes Full Circle Solutions, while adding that larger companies should take active steps to ensure compliance with rules. He also stressed the importance of EPR schemes to manage e-waste better.
Mr. Chehade attributed the low collection rate of e-waste to accumulation in smaller quantities at different places. “It is more practical to collect e-waste from centralised places such as corporate offices than from homes,” he said.
Further, recyclers are ready to collect only those materials where there is a technology to recover metals and secondary raw materials from, the speaker noted. “While computers and laptops get collected, items such as electric lamps do not. They end up in landfills.”
Continuing the discussion on collection, Mr. Nandasiri commented, collection of materials has always been a problem. “Today, IT Asset disposal is seen as a major hurdle as businesses are reluctant to dispose of their hardwares fearing risk of data breaching.”
Speaking about the investment opportunities in the field, Mr. Singh said there is a well established system for processing high-value e-wastes such as servers, phones and laptops. “One has to identify new markets and invest in the right technology,” Joseph Nforbin, Managing Director, Madenat Al Nokhba Recycling Services, said that e-waste recycling is a profitable business but there are challenges such as technological shortcomings while recycling diverse types of electronic waste. Mr. Nadasiri pointed out that it calls for setting up more research & development facilities. The panellists also shared their thoughts on labour shortage and skill development.
Speaking about closing the loop on electronic waste, Mr. Singh said that it should start right from product design. “E-waste is a huge resource. It is a pity that countries are still grappling with recovering materials from it.”
Mr. Chehade pointed out that closing of the loop need not be confined to a country’s border. “If a robust downstream system is in place, it is good enough.”