Crisis in the recycling of WEEE due to the collapse of price of raw materials

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ASSORAEE warns: collective contracts need to be corrected, definite rules and controls are required.

Economy is something that is naturally circular, for the good and for the bad, as market trends show. An example is the collapse of the price of raw materials that hit the recycling sector, which is meant to create new raw materials in its turn. In particular, the decrease of prices of the products deriving from the treatment of WEEE (Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment) could compromise the whole system, making it hard to achieve the EU targets.

This is the warning given by ASSORAEE, the Association for the Recovery of e-waste (“Associazione Recupero Rifiuti Apparecchiature Elettriche ed Elettroniche”) by FISE UNIRE/Confindustria. According to the study carried out by ASSORAEE, the value of raw materials (iron, plastic, aluminium) has dropped by about 30% – 35% since April, and the revenues generated by the sector have experienced the same decrease. Moreover, the data gathered by the association reveals the concrete risk that the market of some materials, such as plastic, may die completely. The consequence would be that the recycling of this material would cease to be a revenue item, becoming a pure cost item instead.

This is why ASSORAEE has requested the revision of contracts concluded with collective systems: these could be corrected by introducing adaption mechanisms based on the forecasting of the increase of treatment costs and decrease of purchase costs.

“We request quick and concrete measures to save a system that served as a model for several European countries – says Gabriel Canè, the President of ASSORAEE – We need institutions and the other actors in the production chain to be more aware of the conditions of our sector”. First of all, the Decree on the appropriate treatment should be promulgated without any further delay, to finally set definite rules and impose an effective control system of the quality and safety standards of the WEEE management. Moreover, it is essential to raise the awareness of all the actors of the production chain about the economic sustainability of the whole system and the possible target markets of recycled materials. The principles to be followed are well established: the first is “who pollutes pays”, the second is the principle of the extended producer responsibility.

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