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WEEE recyclers call for ADR compliance

04.04.2019 − 

E-waste recyclers are increasingly confronted with fires caused by defective high-energy batteries, in particular lithium batteries. However, the majority of the companies is not able to offset the resulting higher costs for insurance, changes to operations and staff through their treatment charges, according to the results of a survey carried out by the European Electronics Recyclers Association (EERA).

In the survey, 80 per cent of companies recycling waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) reported serious fires and related incidents at their facilities. More than 60 per cent of the fires were classified as serious or very serious. Two thirds of the fires required the intervention of external firefighting services, EERA reports.

Almost 60 per cent of the fires broke out during unloading and storage of e-scrap. 30 per cent of incidents occurred during treatment, while fires during the transport of WEEE accounted for the balance.

Due to fires or the fire risk, 86 per cent of the EERA members have already modified their operations or plan to do so within the next twelve months. Almost half of these modifications were considered large investments, but there were also changes to procedures and staff training. Some companies reported requirements of additional staff.

The operational changes resulted in reduced storage and treatment capacity and increased treatment costs. In addition, many companies reported “dramatic increases” in their insurance costs. However, most of these companies were to not able to offset their higher operating costs by raising their treatment prices. “Indeed 89 per cent of respondents said that their customers are not willing to accept responsibility for the problems caused by batteries in WEEE and to accept the costs”, EERA reports.

The umbrella organisation calls on all stakeholders to implement the ADR rules for the safe collection and transport of WEEE including batteries. The ADR (European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road) contains EU-wide requirements for the collection and transport of lithium batteries and devices containing them, but these regulations are not widely accepted and followed, according to the EERA.

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