Assembly versus Disassembly
The evolution in the universe of electronic equipments along the last decades has been exponential, turning the recycling processes of those equipments a challenge for the WEEE recycling industries, as it is the case of the Interecycling company.
The development of machines and automation itself, which help the recycling processes, are challenging, since when the development of suitable machinery for the recycling of electronic equipment ends, it has already ended its useful life, that is: the development process of “new” EEE is more rampant than the automation capacity for their recycling, leaving the WEEE recycling companies fixed to automation processes and machinery that becomes obsolete very quickly.
For example, WEEE recyclers have legislation in place to remove certain hazardous components from electronic equipment that cannot enter into the recycling process, such as capacitors, liquid crystals, mercury lamps, etc. This is imperative in the whole universe of recycling companies working in the E.U., so it would be relevant to consider that part of the solution to this paradigm lies in the EEE producing companies developing electronic equipment, which would allow an easier removal of those hazardous components, at an early stage of the disassembly and dismantling process.
Until today there is not much awareness and application of the so called “ecodesign”, in the sense of EEE producing companies, to allocate the hazardous components in a “standard” way, allowing easy access to them at an early stage of the dismantling process. Changing this dynamic would give WEEE recyclers more efficiency and effectiveness in their processes by allowing the removal of these hazardous components at an early stage in the disassembly and/or dismantling process.
In the absence of such upstream changes with EEE companies, WEEE recycling companies are faced with the challenge of removing hazardous components from the equipment at a downstream stage of their processes, in an almost empirical way, due to the plurality of makes and models they recycle, since there are no “rules” that define the disposal of the same hazardous components.
Given this reality, the proposal to reinforce the logic of “ecodesign”, for companies producing EEE, contemplating an easier dismantling of the equipment and the placement of hazardous components in a standard way would allow, for instance, to remove those hazardous components from EEE, in an initial phase and not in a downstream phase of the recycling process. In this way the imperative fulfilment of these indispensable requisites in the recycling process as well as the valorisation of materials would be with an approach to the process in a more effective, concrete and viable manner, with environmental and productive improvements in the recycling companies and society in general.
From the perspective of a recycling company, we launch this challenge because we believe that the approach to the problem can be done with “upstream” help, creating legislation in the E.U. for the companies that produce EEE, originating in this way a solution that would pass by a partnership and commitment between the companies that produce EEE and those that recycle WEEE. We would work in simultaneously, since it is a given that the “upstream” assembly of EEE can and should work in partnership with the “downstream” disassembly of WEEE recyclers.
This is the challenge to European legislators to make a success of this commitment to a better world in which Europe is a pioneer and leads by example.
- DIRECTIVE 2006/66/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL;
- DIRECTIVE 2002/95/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL;
- DIRECTIVE (EU) 2018/851 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL;
- DIRECTIVE 2012/19/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL;
- COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING REGULATION (EU) 2017/699;
- COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) 2019/2021.