Waste Management in the EU (4) – Recycling



The fact that recycling can do good to the the environment is crystal clear. Still, many people find the environmental argument alone not persuasive enough. Are there any other arguments? Can recycling bring new business opportunities? And more importantly, how could recycling be more user-friendly?


Buy and collect – Belgium’s waste collecting service 


Without proper waste sorting, recycling would not be feasible at all. Is there a more active way to do so other than relying on environmentally conscious people to sort their waste?

In Belgium, whenever consumers buy new electronics or electrical appliances, they have the right to request shops to recollect their old appliance (whose brand and the place it was brought are of no importance as long as the new and the old belong to the same type of products), as according to a Belgian law, producers of electronics and electrical appliances, including manufacturers, importers and distributors, must bear the extended producer responsibility.

Since not every producer has the ability to manage the recollected products on their own, an industry-based organization called Recupel is set up to help its members fulfill their obligation, saving them both time and money.

p.s. Recupel is a non-profit organisation, which relies on two financial support: 1) for all professional appliances (e.g. office printers), producers have to pay an administrative fee when they bring them onto the Belgian market; 2) for household appliances, consumers are liable under the polluter-pays-principle to pay a certain amount of environmental protection fees.  

Suggested activities/ questions

  1. Do you think Hong Kong can follow suit and enforce producers to recollect their products?
  2. How do you normally discard your old electrical and electronic appliance?
  3. After watching this video clip (http://goo.gl/vm7cC6), explain how a smart phone is produced.

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EU’s eco-innovation fund 

Innovation and technology can definitely upgrade the value of recycling, transforming it into a lucrative business. The EU’s eco-innovation fund so far has subsidized around 200 relevant projects. We will introduce two here.

a) From TV screens to ceramic tiles – Italy’s Relight 

Relight is an Italian company specializing in the treatment of electric and electronic waste.

b) From tyres to noise barries – Croatia’s Gumiimpex

Gumiimpex is a Croatian company which produces noise barriers made up of 40 percent of recycled tyres.

Suggested question

  • What are the difficulties to run an eco-business in Hong Kong?

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Cook over the car roof – the Finnish way of recycling 

Recycled materials have a wide range of uses. A Finnish cookware manufacturer has used steel from end-of-life vehicles to make frying pans.

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Other useful videos 

The Journey of Recycled Clothes