Stichting OPEN progress report

When making the last quarterly or annual statement for 2019, we informed you that Stichting Organisatie Producentenverantwoordelijkheid E-waste Nederland (OPEN) would request an order declaring a collective agreement binding (AVV). This report informs you about the latest developments.

Current issues and developments

  • Jan Vlak: AVV application process
  • State Secretary: efficient waste management is the most important criterion for AVV
  • Input from electoral programmes
  • Collaboration with chain partners
  • Appreciation
  • Stichting OPEN investigates return premium system for cooling and freezing appliances
  • Partnership between Stichting OPEN and Team CORE
  • Frequently asked questions

Jan Vlak, Stichting OPEN project director: AVV application process

‘These are exciting weeks. We expect the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management to publish the draft proposal of the order declaring a collective agreement binding (AVV) in July. Then manufacturers, chain partners and other interested parties will have six weeks to respond to the draft proposal by submitting their viewpoint. These could be constructive, but certainly also positive, reactions. Based on the reactions received, the Ministry can modify, withdraw or suspend the proposal or adopt it unchanged. We are assuming the outcome will be positive. Based on the many talks I have had in the past few months with chain partners, government agencies and politicians, I am very confident of this result.

If the AVV is adopted, then Stichting OPEN can legally take control of product responsibility from 1 January 2021. That word ‘control’ requires some explanation. Control means that manufacturers determine jointly what is needed to realise the legal collection targets, what that will cost and how those costs can be allotted proportionally to each product group. Control does not mean that we are taking over the market parties’ work. On the contrary. The implementation or the actual collection, sorting, transporting and recycling of e-waste we shall leave to the market parties as usual. They are already doing their work well.

In summary, Stichting OPEN aims to realise the legal collection targets and make the e-waste sector circular. With the AVV submitted by Stichting OPEN, manufacturers of electronic equipment can meet their legal obligations and the cost will be borne fairly by all manufacturers. This gives us the strength to make the e-waste sector circular together.’

Do you have any questions about the progress with the AVV? Please send us a mail to info@stichting-open.org.


State Secretary: efficient waste management is the most important criterion for AVV

In answering parliamentary questions about the Waste Framework Directive, State Secretary Van Veldhoven emphasises that a General Binding Declaration (AVV) is issued to producer organisations with a view to efficient waste collection and not to regulate competitive relationships. In an AVV, the common interest to make waste such as e-waste circular is paramount. A number of MPs still had some questions, such as whether there is still room for market forces within an AVV. OPEN Foundation is pleased that the State Secretary has answered these questions positively. After all, an important pillar of the OPEN Foundation's approach is the optimization of market forces in implementation; implementation is entrusted to market parties such as collectors, transporters and recyclers. An essential part of this approach is obtaining an AVV. With an AVV, the OPEN Foundation can contribute to high-quality, efficient or innovative prevention, collection and processing of e-waste.


Input from electoral programmes

In June, Stichting OPEN provided input for the electoral programmes of political parties in the run-up to the general electoral in 2021. The electoral seems far off now, but the electoral programmes have already been prepared. It is therefore important to keep the commissions that create these programmes informed about the wishes of manufacturers in the field of e-waste. In a position paper, Stichting OPEN called on the political parties to take the system of producer responsibility seriously in the transition to a circular economy, by involving manufacturers in the development of new legislation. Stichting OPEN also asked the political parties to stimulate knowledge development and innovation within an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) rather than weigh it down with rules in advance. Manufacturers must be given the space to develop their own instruments with which to realise the legal collection targets. Read our entire appeal here.

By sharing this position paper, however, our work regarding the election is not yet finished. In the coming months, Stichting OPEN will talk to politicians and participate in meetings of political parties to keep drawing attention to the wishes and needs concerning e-waste. Are you also intending to provide input for the electoral programmes? Let us know so we can harmonise our messages.


Collaboration with chain partners

The collection and recycling of discarded electrical equipment (e-waste) is well organised in the Netherlands. Thanks to the efforts of manufacturers, local authorities, shops, schools, recycling firms, Repair Cafés, installation companies, petting zoos, consumers, transporters and processors, each year 185,000 tons of high-quality e-waste is collected and processed. That is 55 percent of all electrical devices sold (excluding solar panels). But this still isn’t enough to realise the European collection targets. That is why Stichting OPEN was set up.

By combining the knowledge, experience and networks of chain partners, Stichting OPEN wants to work on circularity. Only together can we respond to the challenges presented by e-waste. Local authorities that want to play a larger active role in the circular economy in their region are invited to form a partnership with Stichting OPEN. This could lead to joint communication projects, campaigns, education, additional drop-off points for small e-waste and work creation projects. The underlying principles are circularity, future-oriented, collaboration and social return on investment.

In addition, the ‘Draft Decree on the separate collection of household waste’ recently appeared, in which e-waste was specified as one of the flows that must be collected separately by local authorities. Because it is in everyone’s interest to recycle as much material as possible, we are happy to support and advise local authorities!


Appreciation

The foundation of Stichting OPEN can count on the support of 2,000 manufacturers, the majority of the market. Francis Das, General Manager of Philips Personal Health Benelux, emphasises that point. ‘Sustainability forms an essential part of our brand promise and is becoming increasingly important for consumers. As a society with a wish to produce and consume in a circular fashion, we would like to secure the established system and prevent cost-driven considerations of manufacturers from leading to a loss of quality. I therefore advocate that we collectively ensure the continuation of the current collection system that we in the Netherlands are justly proud of and absolutely need to realise the circular objectives. If the control is managed collectively, the competition can work in a healthy manner on implementation and processing. That will stimulate innovation and investment in new processing techniques.’


What’s the situation with the return premium system for cooling and freezing appliances? Stichting OPEN investigates!

On 24 April 2020, Minister Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK) announced that the Cabinet is introducing a package of measures in the context of the transition to a circular economy, which should lead to more and better reuse of raw materials and materials. One of the measures he mentioned was a return premium of 35 euros when returning an old fridge-freezer and at the same time purchasing a new appliance. The return premium is paid by the manufacturer.

Stichting OPEN has now started an investigation into implementation instruments including a return premium system and how that in general and on fridge-freezers in particular can contribute to an efficient and effective way of realising the collection target of 65 percent. The investigation is being conducted by a supervisory committee under the leadership of the independent chair, Prof. Jan Jonker, and in co-creation with a delegation from various retail organisations.


Stichting OPEN and TU/e join forces to recycle materials

Stichting OPEN and Team CORE, a student team from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), are forming a partnership and starting a pilot to recycle metals from e-waste.

Team CORE has developed a technology that enables metals from discarded electrical and electronic equipment (e-waste) to be returned to pure elements. This idea perfectly reflects the ambition of Stichting Organisatie Producentenverantwoordelijkheid E-waste Nederland (OPEN) to make the e-waste sector circular. Team CORE and Stichting OPEN are striving to start a pilot in the second half of 2020, which will include a test and a feasibility study.

‘We are actually going to recycle metals in a very simple way,’ explains Dirk van Meer, team captain of Team CORE. ‘It’s the same way the Earth does it, but faster, because the Earth takes three million years to do this. CORE wants to have a factory operational by 2024 that can process fifty thousand tons of waste a year. Currently, it is still a computer model, but by the end of July we hope to have a ‘proof of concept’. A reactor in which e-waste is processed.’ The name CORE refers to the Earth’s core, where a similar process takes place under high temperature and pressure.

‘It is great to see innovative circular initiatives taking shape even in the field of e-waste,’ according to Jan Vlak, project director of Stichting OPEN. ‘OPEN strives to restructure and streamline the current e-waste market, raising the level of the collection and recycling of e-waste through extensive partnerships. A partnership between Team CORE and Stichting OPEN perfectly suits this ambition.’


Frequently asked questions about Stichting OPEN

Our readers/involved parties are very committed, and we receive a lot of questions from you. In this Progress Report, we shall pay attention to some frequently asked questions.

What are the consequences of an AVV? An order declaring a collective agreement binding (AVV) obliges all manufacturers of electrical equipment that sell products on the Dutch market to contribute proportionally to their activities to the collection and processing of e-waste. This will produce a level playing field and a solid basis for financing the collection and recycling for which manufacturers are jointly responsible. With the control over product responsibility focussed in one place, a ‘race to the bottom’ will be prevented. With fragmented control and responsibilities, there is little guidance and there is dissension among manufacturers. This means the focus remains on the short term and the approach and financing for the long term remain uncertain, while steps should be taken together to realise the legal targets, and the manufacturers must adequately implement the legislation that will be coming in the near future.

Is the AVV of Stichting OPEN intended to eliminate competition? The central control of manufacturers is a not-for-profit agency and aims to take the necessary steps to realise the legal targets. No competitors are being eliminated. On the contrary, the AVV submission of Stichting OPEN aims to allow all existing implementing agencies to participate easily. An important aspect of the Stichting OPEN approach is indeed optimising the market forces in the interest of the manufacturers and the environment. The actual collection, sorting, transporting and recycling of e-waste shall continue to be done by the market parties as usual. The manufacturers understand that a sound and sustainable implementation of product responsibility and the essential step towards making the e-waste sector circular can only be achieved in close collaboration with all parties in the chain. Stichting OPEN has conducted talks with several chain partners about the common grounds for collaboration, including with Weee Nederland B.V. Unfortunately, this has not been encouraged by Weee Nederland B.V. and remains unsuccessful, but Stichting OPEN will persist in searching for a partnership with Weee Nederland B.V.

For more frequently asked questions, go to the Stichting OPEN website: www.stichting-open.org/faq. If you have a question that is not answered there, please e-mail it to info@stichting-open.org.




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 f.witte@creativevenue.nl