The International Electronics Recycling Congress in Salzburg

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Janez Potočnik, Co-Chair of the UN International Resource Panel and former EU Environment Commissioner

The 18th edition of the International Electronics Recycling Congress ends today. The IERC, started on January 16th, is an important event in the recycling industry, bringing together around 450 representatives from the recycling industry, OEM’s, academia, manufacturing, governments, media and NGO’s. The congress is focused on the latest recycling technologies, regulations, manufacturing processes and value of raw materials. Three keynote speakers opened the event: Aaron Goldberg, expert on the Basel Convention, Steven Clayton, Regulatory Affairs Manager at Samsung, and Janez Potočnik, Co-Chair of the UN International Resource Panel and former EU Environment Commissioner. The US attorney Aaron Goldberg gave an overview of the challenges and tasks facing the Basel Convention in the course of the further development of the circular economy. Goldberg has over two decades of extensive experience with the recycling sector. He helped to write the EPA hazardous waste rules many years ago and has long served as a lead attorney working on the untangling of national waste classification rules for used and EOL electronics worldwide. Goldberg mentioned the review and possible adoption of revised Technical Guidelines as one of the tasks for the Basel Convention. He also mentioned the review and possible adoption of amendments on plastic wastes and the decision to be made on tools for inventories and reporting for both lithium batteries and plastic wastes. Steven Clayton presented Samsung’s circular economy principals. He has been with Samsung for 5 years and works as a regulatory affairs manager for Samsung Electronics (Europe). He explained what Samsung understands by Galaxy Upcycling and why he sees the chemicals and waste interface as both a key opportunity and a challenge regarding the recyclability of electronics. Janez Potočnik spoke about the importance of keeping materials in the circular economy. The former EU Environment Commissioner was appointed as a Co-Chair of the Environmental International Resource Panel in November 2014. In April 2016 he was also appointed as partner in SYSTEMIQ. Potočnik spoke about the potential for increasing resource efficiency and the circular economy prospects. “For 54 scarce and economically important raw materials, Europe in its entirety depends 90% on raw materials imported from outside Europe”, he said. Besides, during the event there was the annual presenting of the “IERC Honorary Award“. This year Norbert Zonneveld received the award. He celebrates 14 years of service as Executive Secretary of EERA (European Electronics Recyclers Association). He received the IERC Honorary Award in recognition of a career focused on the responsible recycling of electronics. Through the past 14 years he has contributed significantly to the development and evolution of the WEEE Directive, the development of recycling standards and practices and he has contributed and led thought provoking discussions debating WEEE now, and in the future and its connection to the circular economy.

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