Experts discussed the recycling of electrical and electronic equipment waste

29 may 2014

On 28-29 May 2014 Analytical Center hosted the International Conference on “Organization of waste management of electrical and electronic equipment in Russia: situation in the industry and prospects for its development”. This event was organized together with UNIDO Centre for International Industrial Cooperation in the Russian Federation, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation, Waste of Electrical and Electronical Equipment Recyclers Association.

At the first day of the Conference, experts discussed current issues for recycling electrical and electronic equipment waste (EEEW) and ways to solve them by taking into account the world development experience, implementation and enforcement of legal requirements for this type of waste management. The participants also discussed the environmental, technological, methodological and legal aspects of collecting, processing and recycling EEEW in Russia and CIS countries.

Director of the Waste of Electrical and Electronical Equipment Recyclers Association (WEERA), national expert of UNIDO Vladimir Komissarov, pointed out that technological progress leads to an increased consumption of EEE in the world which ends up in a dramatic increase in the formation of this type of waste. “UNEP estimated that every year the world produces 50 million tonnes of electrical and electronic equipment waste, and in Russia - about 1.5 million tonnes”, - said Mr. Komissarov and added that our country is processing only 5-7% of such waste. According to the expert, substances hazardous to human health turn up in landfills. He also mentioned that “a large amount of secondary resources, which can be extracted and engaged in further turnover, are not used”.

It is expected that State Duma will adopt amendments to the existing legislation in the field of environmental protection. These amendments are for introduction in Russia of producer responsibility for recycling their products after the end of their service and economic incentives for companies to use the best available technology.

Director of the Department for state environment supervision of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources Natalia Sokolova talked about legislative and regulatory support, accounting and monitoring of EEEW that contain potentially hazardous substances. She mentioned that in the field of waste management, all legal entities keep records and file reports. “On 1 September 2011, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation adopted the Order No. 721 which states that all legal entities must keep records of the cumulated and transferred to other organizations waste, - she mentioned. – Meaning that records are kept of all transactions involving waste”. Cancelation of licensing for 3 types of activities has led to a number of problems. “At the moment in the field of waste management only two activities are licensed - neutralization and accommodation, including storage and disposal but only for hazard class 1 to 4 degree. – said Ms. Sokolova. - And this category doesn’t include ferrous and nonferrous metals, as they are part of a different procedure”. She also added that penalties for lack of a license are very small, and criminal prosecution requires a rather complex procedure for proving the existence of a significant injury.

Another issue pointed out by Ms. Sokolova was finding the offenders. The Law for protection of the rights of legal entities is active In Russia. For that reason, planned inspections on environmental requirements can be carried out only once every 3 years and the unplanned once are sanctioned by the Public Prosecutor's Office. Such rules complicate the work of inspectors, in particular - their access to company premises.

Duncan McCann, President of WEEEHelp Company, coordinator of the “Policy” program of the global public-private partnership “Solving the E-WasteProblem” (StEP), came in direct contact from United Kingdom, with the participants of the Conference. He spoke about the legal requirements in the area of ​​ electrical and electronic equipment waste, existing in Europe and about the activity of industry associations, aimed at improving the rules on electronic waste and spreading the best practices in managing this type of waste.

The second day was devoted to the practical activities of companies and their participation in the creation of a system for collecting and recycling electrical and electronic equipment waste. According to the experts, these actions benefit the environment and the economy as a whole. Representatives of the companies believe that administrative, information and advertising support is needed to solve the problems. They consider that it is necessary to work with the population, eliminate the existing obstacles and stimulate the desire to dispose of the old appliances. In this sense, the experience of Western countries, where cooperation between market participants is an old practice, would be useful.

This event contributed to achieving a mutual agreement on issues regarding coordination between government authorities, industry and the business community to accomplish a faster introduction of producer responsibility principle to Russia and CIS. Recommendations received from the participants of the Conference will be the basis for developing the waste processing industry in EEEW sector.

The resolution adopted by the Conference, is planned to be filed to the Council of Federation, the State Duma and the Government of the Russian Federation.