Fostering Circularity in Irelands Electronic Sector at the WEEE Ireland members conference in October 2023
At this year’s WEEE Ireland Member Conference held on Wednesday 18th Oct 2023 at Castleknock Hotel, Dublin, Dr. Geraldine Brennan along with CE expert contributors provided insightful and detailed input into this years conference titled Follow our Lead aimed at Irish Producers, Retailers, Local Authorities, and other Stakeholders.
A packed room of over 120 delegates heard updates on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) obligations under the Circular Economy, WEEE Directive Evaluation and New European Battery Regulations, an overview of the UK WEEE System report commissioned by REPIC and an overview of CIRCULÉIRE’s work to date across the ICT sector.
The opening address from Minister of State for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Public Procurement, eGovernment with special responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth welcomed the “bring it back ethos “ already embedded in the Irish WEEE system and the national take back communications campaign funded by DECC.
WEEE Ireland CEO Leo Donovan, summarised the current state of the national WEEE and Battery systems in Ireland, how it has involved over the last 18 years and where the future focus toward improved circularity can be delivered including:
- Importance of Standards in quality recycling and Critical Raw Material recovery as well as ensuring health and safety for proper disposal of lithium battery containing devices.
- Supporting Indigenous Collection Facilities for WEEE and Waste Batteries with a national tonnage strategy.
- Visible Environmental Management Costs for supply chain engagement and encouraging takeback through retail and other channels.
- Capture of all WEEE flows including repair and reuse information, with an All Actors approach for accurate data management and reporting across our national EPR systems
Dr. Geraldine Brennan took the conference through an overview of the plans, programmes, thematic workshops, publications and more that CIRCULÉIRE has developed to foster circularity across its 50 + industry Members and their affiliates. WEEE Ireland has been a founding member of CIRCULÉIRE since 2019 and Geraldine provided a deep dive into how CIRCULÉIRE has supported WEEE and it’s members through this partnership and across the wider electronic and battery cluster through four CIRCULEIRE funded innovation projects. These included:
Circular Economy Skillset Initiative (CESI) an industry-accredited, standards-based, white goods repair training programme from which 10 students have recently graduated with 2 students already in employment;
MED Devices A New Life (MEDAL) consortia are piloting a take-back scheme for single-use wearable medical devices informed by consumer behaviour.
Long-Life Lithium Battery (LLLB) Re-Use Pilot enabled KMK Metals Recycling to upskill their staff and build the physical dismantling infrastructure to enable the safe dismantling of EV batteries.
Robo CRM Advanced Robotics to capture Critical Raw Materials in WEEE recycling non-destructive detection methods in conjunction with pattern recognition and an artificial intelligence engine to identify and sort batteries and electronics containing batteries from the main WEEE stream.
Three of these pilots related to electronics, batteries or wearable medical devices – which are part of the hard to get at “invisible” e-waste category https://resource-recycling.com/e-scrap/2023/10/11/weee-forum-one-sixth-of-e-waste-is-invisible/
Geraldine also highlighted the CIRCULÉIRE Circular ICT & Electronics (2022) Good Practice Guide, citing the key recommendations to further unlock circularity in the Electronics and ICT sector through:
- Greater implementation of Preparation for Reuse, repair, refurbishment and remanufacturing activities.
- Continued investment in value chain cooperation and experimentation to pilot circular innovation.
- Measurement of (BB) post-industrial activities
- Development of an All-Island Remanufacturing Strategy
The full conference highlights can be accessed from the the WEEE Ireland Website HERE
CIRCULÉIRE is a public-private partnership co-created by Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR) and Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), together with industry partners, CIRCULÉIRE aims to assist manufacturers and their supply chains to switch from linear to circular business models. In November 2022, DECC announced €1.5m continuation funding for CIRCULÉIRE in 2023.
Read more about CIRCULÉIRE here.