E-Waste Law promises to boost the economy

CEO of e-waste compliance firm claims establishment of a local recycling industry will add 500 to 600 new jobs and tens of millions of shekels in the next two years.

Electronic scrap 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Electronic scrap 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The onset of the Electronic Waste Law in January will bring hundreds of new jobs and tens of millions of otherwise squandered revenue to the economy, the CEO of an e–waste compliance firm stressed on Tuesday.
“The establishment of a local recycling industry will add 500 to 600 new jobs in the next two years,” said Dan Halman, CEO of M.A.I. – Electronics Recycling Corporation for Israel.
Israel’s new Electronic Waste Law, approved in the Knesset in May 2012, begins to take effect this January and aims to eventually rid the country of approximately 80,000 tons of electronic waste that pile up in landfills each year. By 2021, all manufacturers and importers of electronics must recycle the equivalent of 50 percent of the total weight of their annual electronics sales. Meanwhile, those that sell batteries must begin recycling between 30-35% of their products, depending on the type of batteries sold, by 2019.
As part of the new electronic waste recycling system, M.A.I. submitted four weeks ago a request to become one of the few “compliance scheme” companies that will coordinate collection and regulatory processes regarding the waste. After collecting the waste, the compliance firms perform auditing and sorting, and fill out paperwork regarding the trash – after which, they send it to the several electronic waste recycling factories around the country, Halman explained.
In Halman’s mind, the implementation of the law provides three significant benefits to Israel from an economic perspective. The new law will be regulating a market that until now has been run largely by unofficial bodies, which has resulted in losses of income through tax payments at tens of millions of shekels a year.
Secondly, the establishment of an electronic waste recycling industry will create hundreds of new jobs – a trend that has occurred in other countries around the world that have adopted such laws, Halman explained. Many of these positions end up going to underserved populations or those not already in the labor force, such as individuals with disabilities and minorities.
To this effect, The Jerusalem Post visited an e-waste recycling factory in Karmiel run by the Ecommunity Group this May, which employs 60 special needs workers among its 74 on-site staff members.
A third economic benefit of implementing the Electronic Waste Law will be an increase in state tax revenues as a result of an increase in taxes, both directly and indirectly, Halman explained. By taking on new employees who were not already in the workforce and by regulating the industry, the state will receive significantly increased revenues, Halman continued. Meanwhile, the industrialization of electronic waste recycling processes will increase the extraction and reclamation of metals, which will also contribute to overall economic benefits.
“The implementation of the Electronic Waste Law will bring an increase of tens of millions of shekels from taxes – and hundreds of new jobs beginning in the year 2014,” he said.
Parallel to its operational duties, M.A.I. has committed to increasing electronic waste awareness on an educational level – aiming to change the public perception on environmental damage caused by throwing out electric equipment and batteries, the company said.
“Israel is more or less the last country in the OECD to jump on the train of real recycling,” Halman told the Post on Tuesday afternoon.
Since Israel is acting late in the game, Halman emphasized the importance of learning from the positive steps taken as well as mistakes made by other countries in the e-waste field.
One positive lesson to take is the idea that compliance schemes must be governed by separate entities from the recycling factories themselves, he explained.
Because not all e-waste has the same value, a factory that governs its own compliance scheme may opt to take only certain types of ewaste that can reap the plant more profits.
One mistake that Halman said he feels many European countries have made is placing e-waste recycling bins on their city streets, something that Israel has already started doing. This can be problematic due to the fact that it is very difficult to dump all kinds of sized electronic devices in one, he explained.
In addition, the locations of such bins – which contain items of value – on city streets often result in theft, he added. “You will see people taking e-waste from the streets – they take it because of the value of the iron inside, and of course they don’t treat it to environmental standards,” Halman warned.
Such phenomena are particular cause for concern due to the fact that while ewaste constitutes only 2% of the country’s waste, it accounts for 70% of its pollution.
Instead of placing the bins on the street, Halman said that M.A.I. advocates situating them within gas stations and supermarkets, where people travel regularly with their cars anyway. M.A.I. already has agreements to do just that with the Delek Menta stations and with Shufersal.
“The Israeli public is ready to do recycling,” Halman said. “People won’t go to too much effort – it has to be easy, it has to be combined with the daily chores.”