October 20, 2017
With China’s import restrictions expected to extend to e-waste, Recycling Magazine explores the nation’s recycling industry and the future of e-waste recycling.
In an interview with Dr Woon Eden Yi-teng, Vice Chairman Asia at ALBA, ICM explores the issue of China’s new import restrictions and the impact they will have on e-waste recycling, as well as asking about China’s recycling future.
As the article explains, “the topic of electrical and electronic waste recycling in Asia is generally of great importance and relevance” as in 2014 the continent generated 16 million tonnes of e-waste and between 2010 and 2015 e-waste in Southeast Asia and East Asia “increased by 63 per cent”.
Ahead of the impending Electronics and Cars Recycling WRF 2017 conference, being held in Macau in November, Dr Woon explains that, “In China, the recycling demand has experienced huge growth from 2015 to 2016 – by 3.7 per cent in quantity and a huge 14.7 per cent in value.”
When asked what impact the import restrictions will have on the e-waste recycling industry, Dr Woon explained, “Even with restrictions placed on imports, the national recycling economy still must deal with the huge amounts of waste continuing to be produced in China as matter of priority.” He went on to say, “As iron scrap and plastic are parts – or fractions – of electronic waste, every modification will have its effects. The objective of making these modifications is to – as far as is possible – only allow residue fractions which have been sorted and clearly defined, without any residual waste, to be imported into China.”
As a result, “there will be increasing requirements placed on users/recyclers” and “preparation processes for electronic waste will become higher end”.
ICM asked Dr Woon how advanced the recycling of e-waste was in China, to which he responded, “At the moment, the standards of quality in the recycling of […] e-waste vary greatly across China and Hong Kong, depending on regional legislations and how these regions organise collection. In some regions, it is possible to find extremely advanced plants that correspond to European standards – such as ALBA’s new WEEE processing plant in Hong Kong which will soon be officially opened.”
Looking to the future, Woon explained that there are “two approaches”; the first is the implementation of “legal and industrial standards” and the second is the expansion of the “polluter pays” principle by the government. Woon said that both approaches lead to achieving crucial objectives such as “less environmental pollution, the use of existing resources, and the reduction of CO2 emissions.”
The interview concluded with Woon commenting that, “There is a high demand for advanced technology to be implemented” and explaining, “Third generation recycling technology implemented by ALBA for household waste offers significantly more advantages compared to landfilling (first generation) and waste incineration (second generation).” He finished, “In this way, we can offer an effective solution for both of the mega-trends in China – too much waste and too few resources.”
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