Greening Trade of Recyclable Materials: Recycling Certification for Improved e-waste Management in Asia

Event: ISIE 2015, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK; July 7th to 10th
Conference Proceeding

Considering continuous economic growth in the region, developing Asian countries will face difficulty to maintain the existing recycling system, which relies on market-based transactions and a largely informal recycling market. Asian countries have started working on 3R related policy development and establishing a related institutional framework. It is, however, necessary to work with the development of physical infrastructure at the same time. In Asia, where wealth is rapidly increasing, the environmentally sound management of recyclable resources is gradually sought rather than relying on a simple market-based resource recovery system. Along with institutional arrangements for promoting recycling facilities and a system to ensure environmentally proper treatment and recovery processes, it is necessary to consider utilization of existing promising recyclers and conduct capacity development and nurturing of responsible recyclers. Furthermore, the international role sharing of recycling activities through intra-regional movement can progress as economic integration proceeds in Asia.

Under these conditions, utilization of recycling certification is a potential policy approach to facilitate regional collaboration for ensuring sound recycling of e-waste. Regional economic integration may aggravate environmental impacts related to waste management but also provide good incentives for establishment of a regional resource circulation framework.

Introducing a standardized recycling certification at least from top-runners can contribute to the role-sharing of recycling activities in the region by identifying and disclosing information on responsible recyclers in both developed and developing countries in Asia. This role-sharing is also beneficial for countries with less capacity in e-waste management to ensure sound management of e-waste in the face of increasing consumption of e-products. However, recycling certification cannot work alone effectively as a policy tool. Recycling certification can be effective policy tool when it is combined with incentive systems such as investment for nurturing recycling infrastructure. It is important to establish international branding and reliability of recycling industries in order to promote environmentally sound resource circulation in the rapidly integrating Asian market.

This paper firstly discuss how recycling certification can be beneficial for e-waste management in international context. Then, it shows comparative analysis of different domestic e-waste management schemes in Asian countries. Also, it summarizes the characteristics of existing recycling certification schemes such as R2, e-stewards, and WEELABEX. Finally it discusses options for making recycling certification effective in international context