Restructuring boosts closed loop recycling

New organisational structure for collection and recycling of e-waste aims to achieve ambitious long-term collection targets for Europe

Zoetermeer – 18 december 2019.
Electrical equipment producers are to improve the organisation of the collection and recycling of their discarded appliances (e-waste). A new management body, the Netherlands producer responsibility e-waste organisation foundation (Stichting OPEN*), will focus on ensuring the legal objectives are effectively and efficiently achieved on behalf of all producers. In the coming years, producers face the challenge of improving on the current e-waste collection results. Producers must comply with the European target of collecting 65% of all new appliances and lighting they place on the market and perform high quality recycling. The collection rate in 2018 was 49%.

Under the new structure, Stichting OPEN will assume responsibility for the collection and recycling of e-waste throughout the Netherlands. In contrast to the current situation, producers will centrally control the achievement of targets, allowing them to fulfil their producer responsibility. They will also be able to hold discussions with the government on a joint basis about achieving the objectives. This new approach responds to the wishes of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW) to ensure that the targets are met as effectively as possible through improved management of the organisation and implementation of e-waste collection and recycling.

"The producers’ (trade)associations have recognised that they will not meet the statutory collection target with the current fragmented and complex organisation of e-waste collection," says Jan Kamminga, chairman of Stichting OPEN. "We cannot avoid drastically streamlining the whole system, with a single body controlling the process on behalf of all producers, while the collection, transportation and recycling of e-waste is purchased in the market."

Separating management from implementation | Management activities are those that the producers must perform in line with their legal obligations connected to their producer responsibility. These should come under the control of a single body that represents all producers and communicates on their behalf with the government. Implementation activities are those that are carried out by market operators, such as collection, sorting, transportation and recycling. These will be purchased in the open market on behalf of the management organisation.

Combining forces instead of fragmentation | Under the new structure, existing product foundations for white goods, audio and visual equipment, lighting, tools, IT, solar panels and other electrical appliances will bring their functions together. Each area of activity will be directly represented on the board of Stichting OPEN. All management functions will be entrusted to Stichting OPEN, along with accountability to government and society.

The foundation will establish contracts with collectors, transporters and recyclers in the market through its own purchasing organisation, thereby creating a level playing field. This will make the market more transparent and accessible and ensure greater competition, more efficiency and a fair distribution of costs for producers.

Generally Binding Declaration | Producers who transfer their responsibility for achieving the e-waste collection target to Stichting OPEN will contribute to the cost in proportion to their activities. The foundation wants to ensure that this is carried out in a fair and transparent manner. Therefore, the foundation will ask the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management for a Generally Binding Declaration (AVV) which requires all producers to pay their contribution (excluding light bulb producers, for which Stichting LightRec was granted an AVV in July 2019 until 1 January 2023). Cross-subsidisation of costs will be ruled out.

"This type of AVV, where management and implementation are separated, has been used for years with good results, for example by Stichting Afvalfonds Verpakkingen (waste packaging) and by Stichting LightRec for the collection and recycling of light bulbs," says Jan Kamminga. "A new AVV for this was recently issued by the Ministry. This instrument provides the desired management control and a level playing field for all producers. We therefore believe that this instrument will make a crucial contribution to the streamlined organisation we are aiming for. In preparation for the new structure, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management has indicated that it is looking forward with interest to receiving an AVV application from Stichting OPEN."

Stichting OPEN Ambitions | Stichting OPEN expects the new structure to be fully operational in six to nine months. It expects to give a significant boost to e-waste collection and recycling, working towards closed loop recycling for electronics. The level of collection this year does not yet meet the new European collection targets, which require from each Member State that the volume of collection and recycling is at least 65% of the volume of new electrical appliances placed on the market.

The current approach to increasing collection under the wing of the Monitoringberaad (monitoring council), where producers work alongside all other stakeholders in the chain, will continue as usual. The Monitoringberaad and stakeholders will be involved in implementing the new structure.

For more information please contact the spokesperson for Stichting OPEN: Frank Witte on +31 (0)6 5373 6170 / (0)20 452 5225 or