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European recyclers support Japan’s objection to proposed OECD rules on e-waste trade

21 November 2022

In its latest position paper, European recyclers have united in support of an objection raised by Japan to new international rules that risk subjecting shipments of non-hazardous e-waste to burdensome administrative requirements.

Currently, around 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste are generated globally on an annual basis, and this is anticipated to increase to 110 million tonnes by 2050. E-waste is an intrinsically complex waste stream and proper collection and recycling play an instrumental role in preventing pollution from improper treatment. This maximises the environmental benefits in terms of resource, CO2, and energy savings. Efficient e-waste shipments are also vital to maintaining the pace that circular value chains recover e-waste.

E-waste recyclers in Europe are already well-equipped to tackle this societal challenge with state-of-the-art facilities that adhere to the most stringent environmental standards. As such, a functioning circular economy for e-waste that addresses environmental and human health concerns already exists. However, the new Basel Convention rules that may be incorporated into the OECD framework would impose additional burdensome requirements that risk derailing e-waste recycling.  

There is no need to reinvent the wheel,” says Olivier François, President of EuRIC, the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation. “Recyclers in Europe are already setting the benchmark internationally for their commitment to the highest environmental and human health standards in a market that already functions properly. Implementing the new Basel rules would risk inhibiting rather than facilitating e-waste recycling. Instead, regulatory intervention should focus on curtailing illegal shipments,he added.

As such, European recyclers support Japan’s proposal to retain GC010 and GC020 in Appendix 3 Part II of the OECD Decision and not subject movements of non-hazardous e-waste within the OECD to the onerous administrative procedures obligated by prior informed consent.