E-waste up for discussion in Frankfurt

E-waste up for discussion in Frankfurt

October 8, 2019
Marcia González

E-Waste World Conference & Expo speakers share some insights into their own presentations as well as what they’re looking forward to hearing from other conference participants at this inaugural event for the electronics and electric vehicle battery recycling sectors

With just five weeks to go until the very first E-Waste Conference & Expo opens its doors at the Kap Europa, Frankfurt Messe (14/15 November 2019), delegates and speakers alike appear excited about the final agenda line-up, featuring a grand total of 101 speakers, and they’re seemingly eager to find out what’s in store for them when they land in Germany.

“I’m hoping to hear about truly successful transitions where companies or other actors have moved into more sustainable and circular ways of operating, selling and providing services,” reveals Karl Edsjö, director, Environmental & EU Affairs at Electrolux. On the same subject, Edsjö will be delivering a presentation focusing on how the Swedish giant’s introduction of sustainable materials has made good business as well as environmental sense, so he’ll be demonstrating how circular economy-driven businesses are, at their very heart, more efficient and as a consequence likely to be more profitable. Backing that up, one recent study suggested that if all European Union states were to adopt the circular economy, there would be a potential €1.8 trillion collective economic annual benefit by 2030.

Circularity in electric vehicle batteries
Edsjö will not be disappointed by his speaking counterparts, either, as the circular economy and practical ways of adopting it are under the spotlight throughout the three conference tracks, which features ‘E-Waste Challenges & Opportunities’, ‘Green & Sustainable Electronics’ and ‘Electric Vehicles & Battery Recycling’, the focus of the latter obviously being how we close the loop in the EV battery market – a growing concern for major car-makers as they continue to electrify their vehicle portfolios. Indeed, Honda, Volvo Cars, Audi, Volkswagen Group, Toyota and Renault are already confirmed to attend the conference to discover how they and their suppliers can be more circular in their operations.

Honda, Volvo Cars, Audi, Volkswagen Group, Toyota and Renault are already confirmed to attend the conference to discover how they and their suppliers can be more circular in their operations

“Circularity is often seen as quite complex, something relevant in the future and rather abstract,” believes Joost de Kluijver, director, Closing The Loop, whose supply chains director, Reinhard Smit will enlighten delegates about becoming waste-free in the telecoms industry. Closing The Loop is the perfect example of a company walking the walk rather than talking the talk in the area of sustainable electronics, so his presentation is sure to be well attended. “I’m hoping to explain that circular IT can be offered now, in a practical, affordable and appealing way that generates economic and social value, while bringing the reality of waste-free telecoms within reach,” Smit says.

Window of opportunity
“I’m very curious to hear John Shegerian’s take on e-waste and privacy,” states Alejandro Santacreu, CEO of Finland’s Circular Devices and the inventor of the PuzzlePhone, referring to ERI’s CEO, who is traveling all the way from Fresno, California, to open up proceedings and cut the ribbon on 14 November. “I am also looking forward to Dr Sebastian Hauptmann’s takeaways on designing for durability,” Santacreu adds of Sky Deutschland’s executive vice president of Operations & Digital Innovation, who will be discussing how they created the Sky+ Pro set-top box with circularity in mind and the impacts that were achieved. “Solutions that align the interests of users, producers and recyclers exist and anyone can seize the moment,” Santacreu insists. “Barriers and risks have been lowering for decades and there is a window of opportunity open to those who want to see. We can turn waste into gold – we just need to be daring enough to step out of our comfort zones.”

Barriers and risks have been lowering for decades and there is a window of opportunity open to those who want to see. We can turn waste into gold – we just need to be daring enough to step out of our comfort zones

Santacreu was one of the first of our 101 speakers to be confirmed for E-Waste World Conference & Expo back in April, not least as a result of his ‘zero-BS’ opinions on the sustainable electronics sector, especially when it comes to the much-debated right-to-repair. “Scarcity and inequality are among the biggest emerging threats to our society,” he feels. They can be partially – but greatly – addressed by more holistically designed products acting as vehicles for reverse logistics, more efficient repair and faster and cheaper customization.”

Right to repair
Apple, which was one of the first of the major electronics manufacturers to book a delegate’s pass for the conference, has recently been in the news about this very topic, following the apparent U-turn and launch of its independent repair program. The development was welcomed by Santacreu, in particular, although in his eyes the move could and should have come years ago.

“It’s great to see so many different OEMs speaking at the conference and presenting their plans in terms of circular economy and e-waste management,” says our Advisory Board member, Elisabeth Smith, executive director of the StEP Initiative, who will be providing attendees with an update on StEP programs as well as hosting a special panel discussion focusing on international projects to enable sustainable e-waste management solutions. “I’m most looking forward to hearing everybody’s plans as well as learning more about ongoing initiatives,” she adds. “I’m also excited to learn about new innovative projects and ideas that can help steer electronics manufacturers to more sustainable models. Through presenting the StEP Initative and hosting one of the sessions during which StEP members will present different projects, I hope participants will understand that collaboration between all stakeholder groups is of utmost importance in order to move things forward. We need to work together, share experiences and exchange information. StEP is a platform that can facilitate this.”

Through presenting the StEP Initative and hosting one of the sessions during which StEP members will present different projects, I hope participants will understand that collaboration between all stakeholder groups is of utmost importance in order to move things forward

Ideal mix for results
Smith’s sentiments are echoed by Dr Sven Grieger, manager of WEEE Services at the European Advanced Recycling Network (EARN). “It [the conference] is a good mix of industry – producers, technology developers, recyclers as well as academia and NGOs,” he enthuses. “I’m eager to get the views of these different parties on e-waste management and hopefully hear about their moves to support better cross-industry contributions to enable better collection, management, treatment and material recovery to advance towards what I would call a proper comprehensive circular economy.”

“Rather than rehashing the discussions held in the past, the conference is looking at the problems from new and innovative angles, with one of the three streams devoted to electric vehicles and battery recycling – a topic that has not been much discussed until now,” asserts Katharina Kummer Peiry, owner and principal of Kummer EcoConsult. “This is the discussion I am anticipating the most. But overall, the list of speakers and sponsors is impressive – it seems everybody who is anybody in the business is represented!”

Rather than rehashing the discussions held in the past, the conference is looking at the problems from new and innovative angles, with one of the three streams devoted to electric vehicles and battery recycling – a topic that has not been much discussed until now

Legal force
Kummer Peiry, who was executive secretary of the Basel Convention for five years prior to its merger with the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, is arguably one of the world’s leading and most respected voice on environmental law and policy. In fact, she assisted with the negotiations of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, proposed by her own country of Switzerland. “The domain of environmental law was fairly new back then,” she recalls. “E-waste became one of the key issues under the Basel Convention from late 1999 onwards, so I became involved in it from a policy side, helping party states to develop strategies and concepts for addressing it at an international level.”

“Having worked in environmental policy for more than 30 years, I hope to give participants – especially those who may have limited knowledge of this field – an overview of how policy and law developed over the years, how it has shaped national policies and influenced industrial activities, and what we might expect from it in the future,” she says.

It was important that we focused on the solutions to tackle the challenges in the present and future – I didn’t want people sitting around for two days discussing the problems of the past

Holistic approach
“I think we have achieved what we set out to achieve and deliver a program that looks at the global e-waste crisis holistically,” says Mike Robinson, CEO of Trans-Global Events, which in 2019 has already delivered the hugely successful ‘Plastic Free World Conference & Expo’, cited as the “best conference I have ever been to” by one Unilever delegate. “It was important that we focused on the solutions to tackle the challenges in the present and future – I didn’t want people sitting around for two days discussing the problems of the past. So, whether it be a business model or a technology, what you will find in Frankfurt are ideas and concepts to move towards a circular economy in electronics, solar and electric vehicle battery recycling that can be enacted now. I know that if you attend E-Waste World Conference & Expo this November, you will see circular economy in action.”

E-Waste World Conference & Expo will take place from Thursday 14 November to Friday 15 November at the Kap Europa, Frankfurt Messe, Germany. To register for this highly focused, solutions-driven event, please click here. For sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, please email peter@trans-globalevents.com

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