Expand panel Social icons
RSS TwitterFacebookLinkedINDropbox

Featured Article: Waste Recycling – A Concept In Transition – September 27, 2013

kamranRecycling has been an activity practiced by human being since the times of Plato in 400 BC, during periods when resources were scarce. In those days household waste (such as ash, broken tools and pottery) was used to be recycled in the absence of new material. In pre-industrial times, there is evidence of scrap bronze and other metals being collected in Europe and melted down for perpetual reuse.In Britain dust and ash from wood and coal fires was collected and used as a base material in brick making.

The main driver for these types of recycling was the economic advantage of obtaining recycled feedstock instead of acquiring virgin material, as well as a lack of public waste removal in ever more densely populated areas. Rapid industrialization and today’s life style has tremendously increased the waste production in recent times, and recycling helps in keeping the environment green.

The recycling is a key component in the waste management hierarchy shown in the figure. The most suitable option in dealing waste is prevention – adapt your process or activity in such a way that no or less waste is produced. The next option is reuse and recycling. Burning and disposal are least preferred options in waste management as they pollute the environment. 

The recycling is a key component in the waste management hierarchy shown in the figure. The most suitable option in dealing waste is prevention – adapt your process or activity in such a way that no or less waste is produced. The next option is reuse and recycling. Burning and disposal are least preferred options in waste management as they pollute the environment.

In old times, the spontaneous attitude with respect to waste in developed countries was to consider it as an undesirable side-product of our consumption. Today’s concept is that waste could also be considered in the first place as just another raw natural resource that needs some further processing before it can be made suitable for human use. In such an approach, waste collection and processing is regarded as an industry producing valuable products.

Various types of wastes are available for recycling such as the following:

  • PVC
  • Batteries
  • Food Waste and Bio-degradable Waste
  • Electronics Waste
  • Transportation Waste
  • Industrial Waste

The industry needs to develop various technologies to process or reuse this industrial waste. Recycling of Electrical and Electronic Waste is technologically the most difficult to implement.

The new concept of electrical and electronic recycling is being developed through rigorous efforts in Europe, USA and other industrial nations through stakeholders’ participation. For instance, the recycling efforts being made in Europe related to batteries, electronic and electrical equipment are described here briefly for information of all concerned.

Legislation by EU for promoting new Recycling Concept

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive) is the European Community directive 2002/96/EC on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) which, together with the RoHS Directive 2002/95/EC, became European Law in February 2003. The WEEE Directive set collection, recycling and recovery targets for all types of electrical goods, with a minimum rate of 4 kilograms per head of population per annum recovered for recycling by 2009. The RoHS Directive (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) set restrictions upon European manufacturers as to the material content of new electronic equipment placed on the market.

The WEEE directive has undergone a number of minor revisions since its inception in 2002. These include updates in 2006 and 2009. Recently, the Directive was seen as failing to achieve some of its goals, hence the legislation had been amended again on June 07, 2012 as new WEEE Directive2012/19/EU.

Community / Industrial Support in EU for promoting new Recycling Concept

The industrial sector was quite responsive to the legislative activity described above. European Electronics Recyclers Association (EERA) was established as a non-profit organisation which represents and promotes the interest of recycling companies that are treating waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). The aims of EERA are listed below:

  • The harmonisation of national and international regulations for WEEE recycling,
  • A level playing field for fair competition of all actors in the WEEE chain,
  • Effective and efficient processing of WEEE in order to:

-          achieve a high level and quality of material recovery,

-          assure protection of human health and safety,

-          prevent pollution and

-          minimise emissions.

  • Auditable tracking of WEEE and materials throughout the treatment and reprocessing chain,
  • Prevention of export of any whole and untreated WEEE and hazardous sub-streams for treatment and recycling outside the European Union, unless it complies fully with all applicable European environmental, health and safety regulations,
  • Strict criteria for reuse of electrical and electronic equipment. 

There are currently around 40 EERA members (companies) who have implemented the EERA charter and the number is growing. Despite difficulties and economic recession, the EU has set a good example for its commitment to a sustainable environment and green living.

by Syed Kamran Ali

A mechanical engineer with 20 years’ experience in energy sector including alternate energy resources, currently engaged in developing ideas for maximizing comfort and reliability in sustainable living. The only problematic concern in harnessing green energy is the intermittent nature of renewable energy resources like solar radiation, wind power etc. This intermittent availability necessitates storage of energy when it is available for the time it is not available. For industries and businesses this may not be a big issue, but for households this may cause serious problems. The writer believes that use of renewable energy is not simply pruchasing gadgets, which provide alternate energy supplies, it has to be incorporated in our lifestyles to make it sustainable in the long run.

Articles by same author ;

Featured Article: One down from Central Asian Gas Suppliers – Eastern Europe Watches – September 25, 2013

Endangered Environment – The Multi Dimensional Problem – September 23, 2013