Eindhoven/ Hoboken: Philips and Umicore hosted an international group of young researchers looking at the growing problem of waste electronic and electrical equipment, more commonly known as e-waste. Sponsored by the NVMP Foundation, the Dutch Association for the Disposal of Metal and Electrical Products, the E-waste Summer School was organised by the United Nations University under the aegis of the StEP Initiative and took place from 29th August – 7th September.
“Building research capacity on e-waste management is a key objective of NVMP. Hence, the Summer School is a wonderful platform for this”, said André Habets, in charge of Research and Development at NVMP.
Nineteen students from all continents participated in this second NVMP-StEP E-waste Summer School. Between them, they represented 18 countries of origin or place of study. The issues discussed during the ten days ranged from environmental justice to consumer behaviour to recycling technology.
The theme of this year’s Summer School was 'Enabling Sustainable EEE Cycles'. Claudia Luepschen of UNU said, “It was our intention to provide young e-waste researchers with an opportunity to look at e-waste in a holistic perspective. E-waste is not only an environmental issue. It is closely interlinked with technical, legal, social, logistic and economic issues too and often researchers working in one field are not aware of the other related aspects”.
Nils de Caluwe from Philips, also a co-sponsor, is very supportive of the aims and objectives of the Summer School. He said, “It is important for young researchers to interact with experts from industry as well as academia and government as also to share their knowledge and expertise amongst their peers. The Summer School was a unique opportunity for Philips and also for me personally to get fresh ideas and know more about the questions and solutions being discussed around the management of e-waste worldwide”.
One of the international experts invited to the Summer School was Prof. Oladele Osibanjo, the Executive Director of the Basel Convention Coordinating Centre for the African Region in Nigeria. He added: “This is such a laudable initiative. The future of e-waste management is in the hands of our young researchers and scientists. I was immensely impressed by the level of knowledge and the lively discussions we had in the sessions”.
One of the participants, Huabo Duan from China explains, “E-waste is a hot topic around the world. Less developed countries like China or India have been experiencing great challenges in managing their e-waste due to growing domestic generation as well as uncontrolled imports. The Summer School provided a platform for me to learn about e-waste management systems in countries like the Netherlands, Belgium or Germany, which have integrated recycling systems and advanced technology in place and many years of experience in e-waste management.”
The programme of the summer school included expert lectures, student presentations as well as on-site study tours and even a hands-on dismantling session. The group also visited co-sponsor Umicore Precious Metals Refining in Hoboken, Belgium, where precious metals like gold, silver and even special metals like indium are recovered from e-waste. Christina Meskers from Umicore adds: “The involvement in the Summer School is a further continuation of our interaction with StEP. It provides the students insights in the workings of a high-tech metallurgical and chemical plant, illustrates the complexity of recycling chains and the role that each stakeholder plays in it”.
Mauro from Brazil summed up the experience of the students “This is a brilliant initiative and not only beneficial for me, but for my university and my country. I received so much input on just the first day alone so as to compensate for my travel from Brazil. I had come to get some answers regarding e-waste. After ten days, not only do I know lots of answers and possible solutions, but have even more enthusiasm to work towards an e-waste solution for Brazil.”
Solving the E-Waste Problem is a partnership of several UN organizations, prominent industry, government and international organizations, NGOs and the science sector. StEP initiates and facilitates a sustainable e-waste management worldwide through analysis, planning and pilot projects. The StEP initiative is hosted by United Nations Universities Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP SCYLE). The NVMP – StEP E-waste Summer School is organized under the Capacity Building task force of StEP.www.step-initiative.org
United Nations University, Japan
UNU is a major think-tank for the United Nations System. With research and capacity-building, UNU helps to resolve most burning global problems. The University comprises UNU headquarters in Tokyo, Japan (since 1975) and a worldwide network of more than a dozen Research and Training Centres and Programmes. www.unu.edu, www.isp.unu.edu
The NVMP Foundation (the Dutch Foundation for the Disposal of Metal and Electrical Products) has been commissioned by producers and importers to set up an efficient and effective collection and recycling system for discarded electrical and electronic equipment and appliances in The Netherlands. NVMP is sponsoring E-waste Summer School. www.nvmp.nl
Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands is a global leader in healthcare, lifestyle and technology, delivering products, services and solutions through the brand promise of “sense and simplicity”. Sustainability is an integral part of the way Philips does business focused on improving people’s lives through timely innovations. Philips is hosting the E-Waste Summer School at Hightech Campus in Eindhoven. www.philips.com
Umicore is a materials technology group. It focuses on application areas where it knows its expertise in materials science, chemistry and metallurgy can make a real difference. Umicore generates approximately 50% of its revenues and spends approximately 80% of its R&D budget in the area of clean technology, such as emission control catalysts, materials for rechargeable batteries and photovoltaics, fuel cells, and precious metals recycling. Umicore’s overriding goal of sustainable value creation is based on this ambition to develop, produce and recycle materials in a way that fulfils its mission: materials for a better life.
The Umicore Group has industrial operations on all continents and serves a global customer base; it generated a turnover of € 6.9 billion (€ 1.7 billion excluding metal) in 2009 and currently employs some 14,300 people. www.umicore.com
EMPA is the research institute for material science and technology of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) domain. It is a pioneer in monitoring and controlling for e-waste management systems and setting recycling and disposal standards. Additionally, it manages the online e-waste guide (www.ewasteguide.info). Empa is co-organizer of the Summer School. www.empa.ch
Summer School Website