Companies that operate multi-nationally often face a high level of complexity regarding compliance obligations. In Europe alone, more than 80 different regulations apply to WEEE, batteries, and packaging. As a result, more and more companies are choosing to outsource and centralize these obligations as it's often a time-consuming and costly task that is not part of their core business.
Following that trend, this case study analyzes the decision of a leading automotive manufacturer to centralize and outsource its compliance obligations to RLG. We'll discuss the initial situation, potential options for the company, and the benefits of working with a dedicated service provider like RLG.
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RLG is proud to have contributed to the "Circular Economy Roadmap for Germany" as part of the Circular Economy Initiative Germany (CEID), which is available (in German). The roadmap offers an overarching narrative that can unite economic and environmental policy and thus contribute significantly to achieving the goals of the European Green Deal.
RLG is a founding member of the Circular Economy Initiative Germany, which aims to develop a joint target vision and a concrete plan on how the transformation towards a Circular Economy in Germany could be fostered. The initiative aims to bring together economic, scientific, and societal stakeholders and serves as a basis for deriving policy recommendations and options summarized in the Circular Economy Roadmap for Germany.
The battery year 2020, like many others, was marked by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, which unfortunately still keeps us on our toes.
We are all the more proud of an excellent year under very difficult conditions. The REBAT battery collection scheme grew again in 2020 and could contribute to and ensure responsible collection and recycling of portable batteries in Germany.
Moreover, with this legally required performance review, we can document that we significantly exceeded the collection rate of 45 percent prescribed by law last year. With a collection rate of 49.2 percent, we were almost able to reach the 50 percent rate that will apply from January 1, 2021, a year earlier.
We increased our collection volume by more than 50 percent compared to 2019, with a total of 10,129 tons of portable batteries collected in 2020.
As a collective take-back system, the success of our system is further measured by the number of manufacturers who decide to fulfill their collection obligation for batteries through our system, as well as the number of affiliated collection points. With more than 1,100 connected producers of portable batteries and over 50,000 collection points, CCR REBAT is one of the leading take-back systems for used portable batteries in Germany and Europe. We are pleased that our network will expand again in 2021, as we are further onboarding manufacturers and collection points.
Especially in these difficult times, we would like to thank our customers and partners and all large and small battery, collectors. Only together we could achieve this fantastic result!
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools have to close, and students are faced with distance learning. Especially when studying remotely via digital channels, adequate hardware is essential for a successful learning experience. Unfortunately, not all children have access to the appropriate computer equipment at home. To address this problem, CCR Poland has launched ODN@WIAMY which means “let’s refurbish”. The project has been a collaborative effort of the Zaraz Wracam Foundation, Elektrorecykling, and CCR Poland.
About the project
Entrepreneurs and companies are encouraged to hand over unused and redundant laptops and computer supplies. The equipment is then inspected, refurbished, and repaired by specialists if necessary. In the next step, all usable devices are adapted to the children's needs and handed over to schools and family centers. Non-repairable equipment is recycled at dedicated facilities.
Any devices that can be used for distance learning, including laptops, computers, monitors, keyboards, speakers, mice, and printers, are collected. Additionally, the devices are checked if they are mechanically sound and compatible with current operating systems.
In addition to providing hardware for the students, the participating schools and companies are equipped with informational materials and educational games to raise awareness of recycling methods and the Circular Economy concept.
Hans-Joachim Bevers takes over a strategic role at RLG as a Business Development Executive on April 1st. This represents a major step for RLG as the company continues to strengthen its capability and focus on becoming the leading provider of innovative solutions for deposit refund systems (DRS) on a global level.
For years, Hans-Joachim Bevers has been a thought leader, designer and an active practitioner in the German deposit system, making him one of the leading experts in the market. With his more than 15 years of relevant experience he will help RLG drive the development and operationalization of novel deposit systems solutions.
Commenting on joining RLG, Hans-Joachim said:
“I am excited to help shaping new developments in the area of innovative DRS at RLG, which is future-oriented, pioneering and addressing challenges of traditional DRS systems. In the age of advancing digitalization, creating sustainable and at the same time big data-driven deposit solutions is a challenge of a special kind that I am very much looking forward to.”
RLG CEO, Patrick Wiedemann, said of the appointment:
“We are delighted to welcome Hans-Joachim Bevers, an experienced, competent and recognized expert, to RLG. With him on board, we have the right team to meet the market needs, help our customers to fulfill their legal obligations and business requirements with our innovative solutions, and further drive the implementation of circular economy.”
Driven by strong economic growth and changing consumption patterns, electronic waste (e-waste) generated in India has increased by more than 60 percent since 2016. With 3.2 million tons in 2019, the country is the third largest e-waste producer worldwide, according to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020. The Indian e-waste market is dominated by the informal sector, the part of the economy that is neither taxed nor monitored by any form of government. It accounts for about 90 percent of the e-waste to be processed. Yet, the huge volumes of e-waste combined with insufficient and poor working conditions in addition to low ecological standards, endanger people and the environment alike. For this reason, RLG India is taking a systemic approach with all relevant stakeholders, aiming to include the informal sector in a formal end-to-end process.
The underlying problem
The informal sector operates in an unstructured set up, which is unregulated and does not follow the prescribed environmental norms for handling hazardous substances. This is highly problematic as the processing of e-waste is very complex and, if not handled properly, has the potential to cause serious harm on several levels:
Occupational health issues: There is little regulation to protect the health of those who are in direct contact with e-waste. Thus, the employed workers are often exposed to polluted air, fire, acid and other chemicals. In addition, there are inadequate sanitary facilities and insufficient clean drinking water available in their workplaces.
Environmental pollution: Furthermore, the informal processing of e-waste is not monitored for compliance with environmental regulations. Non-recyclables simply end up in landfills and spent fluids are dumped without any control mechanisms. As a result, toxic compounds such as chemicals and heavy metals may contaminate the soil and groundwater.
Inefficient recovery of materials: Since electrical and electronic equipment is processed in a rudimentary manner, the efficiency of its recovery is limited in terms of collection and recycling amounts. Consequently, valuable materials such as precious metals, rare earths, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, plastics and glass are lost, which means that the full economic potential of e-waste remains untapped.
RLG India’s inclusive systemic approach
An integrative approach involving all market participants is essential to protect people and nature, as well as to process the huge quantities of e-waste as efficiently and sustainably as possible. RLG India transforms members of the informal sector into a cornerstone of the formal e-waste management process by formalizing them as integral stakeholders. This was done in clusters and at the pan-India level.
RLG aims at educating players in the informal sector on safe collection, storage, and recycling processes, as well as accounting and documentation practices. Further, guidelines show how to obtain an official business license and how individual collectors can join forces to benefit from synergy effects. Recycling facilities are equally encouraged to professionalize their business, being audited, and contracted to establish safe workspaces and reliable material downstream. The consistent work with the “kabadiwalas” (waste collectors) is having an impact as six of them, have formalized their operations and set up their own recycling and dismantling units as per the guidelines of the E-Waste Management Rules of 2016.
Since November 2020, RLG India has been working with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to further expand this inclusive approach through the 'E Safai' project. It contains a series of online and on-ground campaigns in selected cities starting with Delhi and Hyderabad and aims at raising awareness of the safe and sustainable handling of e-waste among various stakeholders. This again includes the integration of the informal sector into the formal ecosystem. The goal is to reach 1000 informally employed workers, 80,000 students, 200,000 people through office clusters, 1,500 through bulk consumers, 15,000 people in Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) and create more than 1,000 employment opportunities in the collection, dismantling and recycling sectors by bringing on board four dismantlers in India.