Eco Innovation

In2tec welcomes call to strengthen WEEE Directive

9th November 2023
Paige West

In2tec Ltd has supported a call to the European Commission by an environmental coalition to reinforce the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive.

The directive, deemed a trailblazer at its inception in 2012, is now considered outdated due to technological advances and increased electronic waste.

The WEEE Directive's current mandate includes:

  • Enforcing separate collection and proper treatment of WEEE
  • Setting collection, recovery, and recycling targets
  • Strengthening the fight against illegal waste exports by complicating the disguise of such shipments
  • Minimising administrative burdens through the unification of national WEEE registers and reporting formats

Emma Armstrong, In2tec's Sustainable Electronics Ambassador, remarked: “The coalition’s calls for strengthening the WEEE regulatory framework couldn’t come at a better time. The world’s ongoing and increasing requirements for technology, to travel safely, keep us connected, and advance medical treatment only puts more stress on the already inefficient recycling process. The need for tech causes a monumental issue not only for WEEE, but we’re depleting materials and resources that are fast running out.”

Globally, over 58 million tonnes of electronic waste are generated annually, a figure that is on the rise. The majority of this waste, after minimal recovery of materials from printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs), ends up in landfills, contributing to soil and water contamination. The coalition has urged for unified and binding regulations across Europe to facilitate WEEE recycling. Their suggestions include promoting repair and reuse, extending producer responsibility, stopping illegal exports, and prohibiting the destruction of unsold WEEE.

In2tec has been creating a closed-loop solution for PCBAs that can be 'unzipped' for repair and reuse. The ReUSE system comprises adhesives, inks, materials, and design techniques for separable PCBAs. ReCYCLE is the separation process, employing proprietary methods and an eco-friendly catalyst to alter the material's chemistry and allow unzipping.

This innovation not only lowers CO2 emissions but also minimises stress on components, which are often manufactured for a 25-year lifespan but used for less than five. The potential for reuse is significant, offering economic benefits across the supply chain.

The Global Electronics Council estimated that, in 2021, components worth $60 billion were squandered, a figure expected to increase as resources dwindle and component prices surge. In2tec's technology offers a circular ecosystem for electronics, challenging the current linear model.

Armstrong added: “The requirement for tech is seen in almost every sector, and yet it is one of the most heavily polluting entities the world has ever known. We have a duty to act, for our children and our planet. Our technology doesn’t require significant investment by OEMs or Recyclers, yet the benefits are astounding. Let’s be honest, most things come down to cost. Our technology provides a closed-loop value chain and it’s the solution the world is calling for.” The long-term impact of e-waste on landfills will have significant repercussions, with future generations facing material shortages that could impede technological progress and cost lives.

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