Trends & technology
Robotics, the Internet of things, 3-D printing – all buzzwords which quite plainly demonstrate on a daily basis the breathtaking speed with which the wheel of time turns and how new technologies are shaping our everyday lives. We assess current trends, identify their consequences for recycling and share these issues with you.
European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC)
Goliath learns from David
The CENELEC EN 50625 series of standards will soon be introduced throughout Europe. What does this mean? What started out in Switzerland some time ago based on the SENS/Swico requirements is now to be defined as a quality standard for the take-back cycle across Europe. This is a good example of how a Goliath like Europe can learn something from a David like Switzerland.
The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) has decided to integrate the EN 50625 series of standards – as a basis for determining state-of-the-art technology (Stand der Technik) – in an enforcement aid and has sought cooperation with the system providers (SENS, Swico, Swiss Lighting Recycling Foundation [SLRS]), recycling companies and collection systems (collection points and retailers) accordingly. The FOEN does not want to see a reduction in the requirements that have already been introduced in Switzerland under any circumstances. Discussions are thus also being held on additional Swiss requirements that go beyond those of CENELEC. In professional circles, the talk is of CENELEC-CH requirements for Switzerland. The work on the enforcement aid is already at a very advanced stage, and they are expected to be introduced in mid-2017.
Inspection under EN 50625
Inspections (now conformity assessments in accordance with CENELEC) should also be performed on the basis of EN 50625. For this reason, the Swico/SENS Technical Commission started to perform pilot checks at selected recycling companies back in 2015 in order to gather initial experiences. This pilot phase is now being expanded and extended into 2016. The SENS and Swico systems are thus already on their way to meeting the CENELEC requirements and are prepared for the FOEN enforcement aid.
Handling of lithium-ion batteries (LIB)
The three take-back systems of SENS, Swico and Inobat have set up a working group called “LIB in WEEE”1. In consultation with the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO), explanations and recommendations are being drawn up for all those involved in the collection and transport of LIB-containing waste electrical and electronic appliances, id est collection points, retailers and recycling companies. According to the current legislation under ADR 2015, there are special provisions and packaging instructions that need to be complied with but which have not yet been implemented in practice or entail other difficulties. They require far-reaching and – in some cases – significant adjustments of the current practice across Europe. For example, the collection of LIB-containing waste electrical and electronic appliances as bulk goods in containers is no longer permitted for safety reasons. It is therefore not surprising that ongoing amendment proposals to the ADR rules are being received which have to be adopted by respective committees and integrated in the relevant regulations. We expect the situation to ease and be clarified during the course of 2016 with implementation to follow at the beginning of 2017.
1 LIB stands for lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries, and WEEE stands for waste electrical and electronic equipment.
The monitoring of trends is a top priority
With the new Strategy 2020, SENS is implementing a new strategic pillar: the systematic handling of trends.
In order to enable us to act as an active information platform for our stakeholders, economic, environmental, social and technological trends need to be dealt with actively. This involves the monitoring, selection and, where necessary, adaptation of new business processes. SENS attaches great importance to the handling of trends and views trend monitoring as a top priority. This important strategic pillar has been put in the hands of Roman Eppenberger, a member of the Executive Board, who assumed responsibility for Technology & Quality at SENS on 1 April 2016.
Right now, focus is being placed on the following technology trends: digital lifestyle, the Internet of things, household robotics and nanotechnology. These trends represent both opportunities and risks for SENS as regards future recycling and the associated disposal of pollutants.