1. Intro

4 reasons why Recupel shifted into higher circular gear in 2016

"It’s become a sheer necessity that we, as a society, take the path of the circular economy," Recupel noted when it celebrated its 15th birthday in 2016.

"The growing mountain of waste and the increasing scarcity of raw materials are of such a nature that the circular economy and urban mining are no longer optional," CEO Peter Sabbe concluded in 2016, at Recupel´s 15th birthday party : "they’ve become a necessity. The raw materials we extract from electrical and electronic waste no longer have to be taken from the earth."

  1. the fastest growing type of waste in the world

    Every year electronic waste grows by another 4 to 5%, a rate that makes it the fastest growing type of waste in the world. Worldwide in 2016, around 46 million tonnes of electronic waste were generated, as calculated by the Global e-Waste Monitor of the United Nations, i.e. around 6.3 kg for every inhabitant of the planet.
  2. hazardous substances remain present

    However, hazardous substances are often integrated into many devices, as Test-Aankoop* recalled once again in 2016 : "The pipes of refrigerators contain gases that are highly dangerous. Washing machines sometimes contain toxic PCBs, and the screens of old TVs almost always contain heavy metals. It is vitally important that we not let these substances get away.”* Their proper removal and processing before recycling, i.e. “depollution”, is thus of enormous value.
  3. raw material scarcity

    In addition, it is also becoming economically ever more important “to recover as many elements from outdated electronics as possible. Metals such as cobalt or cadmium, for example, are primarily found in mines in Congo and Zambia, where they are extracted under very dubious circumstances and without any concern for the environmental impact. Metals such as gold, silver and copper also are increasingly difficult to extract, yet can be found - easily accessible - in many electronic devices.” This scarcity was felt even more strongly in 2016, which further increased the importance of electro-recycling.
  4. the invisible kilos

    According to the most recent figures, each and every Belgian generates 22.4 kg of electrical and electronic waste on an annual basis. In the meantime, almost half of this - around 10 kg - is being properly collected by the Recupel network for reuse or recycling. These 10.2 kg are thus guaranteed not to end up "somewhere in Africa or Asia" where, as Test-Aankoop describes, "people attempt, in a very rudimentary way, to collect the most valuable electronic components, with all the attendant consequences for their own health and for the environment."* It is thus very important to better map out those still "invisible" kilos in order to be able to guarantee that they are properly collected and recycled as well.

In brief : reasons enough for Recupel to shift into higher gear in 2016 and collect more electrical and electronic equipment than ever before. “By combining the expansion of the collection network Recupel with targeted campaigns for lamps and small electrical appliances, we have once again taught the right habits to a significant group of Belgians,” says Sabbe : “you don´t just throw electrical and electronic waste away, you bring it in to us.”

By 2016, urban mining was no longer an option. It has become a necessity

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*Source : Carine Deschamps and Paul Nies, Tijd voor grote kuis (Time for the big cleanup), in : Test-Aankoop 1 October 2016, p. 22-24.
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2. Awareness raising

In 2016 Belgians became more aware than ever of the importance of urban mining

With things like an action to raise the awareness of students, a new website, two large-scale media campaigns, a further increase in the number of stores having become collection points and an active PR component, Recupel in 2016 was able to make the Belgians more aware than ever of the increasing importance of the proper collection and reprocessing of electrical and electronic waste.

To begin with, in 2016 work was done on positioning Recupel in the area of Public Relations and Public Affairs, with the intention of leveraging its name recognition and highlighting the organisation’s social importance. To accomplish this Recupel has joined forces with many other organisations and institutions that have shown an interest in or are associated with recycling, urban mining and the circular economy. After all, a proper understanding of the e-waste problematic and the activities of Recupel by as many stakeholders as possible is of great importance for guaranteeing a further positive evolution of Recupel´s activities. The concrete result of this increased attention for (media) relations has already been a sharp increase in the number of newspaper articles, radio interviews and TV reports devoting attention to Recupel’s important role in electro-recycling in Belgium.

Café Recupel

In order to specifically raise the awareness of the Belgian student population, in 2016 Recupel opened “Café Recupel”. For this action, where students get the chance to bring in electrical and electronic waste in an easily accessible way, we collaborated intensively with Recycling shops and the intermunicipal utility companies. Both are mentioned in the communications about each event, and are present on site in order to check the devices brought in for their reuse potential. Thus in 2016 six cafés were organised, distributed across the country´s three regions. Apart from the collection of old electrical and electronic equipment, this initiative also generated a good deal of media attention.

Recupel's new website

In addition, Recupel´s new website was launched in 2016. This has been further elaborated as the basic platform for Recupel´s contact with consumers and companies. In coming years, moreover, our own channels will be receiving a more important role in external communication. In 2016 the digital communication efforts were already recognised with a Digital Marketing Award in the Non-profit category. Like most organisations, Recupel is digitising more and more aspects of its operation. This ensures greater efficiency, but also requires a certain vigilance. In this context, in 2016 Recupel decided to have an “ethical hacking” conducted on its IT systems, a test that was successfully concluded.

Finally, it appears from the 2016 collection figures that the media campaigns focusing on small electrical and electronic devices and lamps were also well worth the effort. The "use your head" and "lamp ladies" campaigns had a measurable effect that was significantly reinforced by the combination with the expansion of the RecyclePoints : recognisable collection points at visible locations in store chains and retail. When we look at the tonnage, almost 10% more small electrical and electronic devices were collected and 5% more lamps than the preceding year; in 2016, the quantity of collected equipment went up 20% and over 21%, respectively.

Collection points and campaigns lifted the quantity of collected small electrical and electronic devices by 20%

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3. Collection results

In 2016 32 million discarded devices found their way to reuse or recycling

In 2016 Recupel collected more electrical and electronic equipment than ever before, thus staying at the head of the electro-recycling pack in Europe. In 2016 10.2 kg per inhabitant was collected, or a total of more than 32 million devices to which a cord is attached or which run on batteries. These are increases of respectively 0.53 kg and 5.2 million devices compared to 2015.

As expected, in 2016 Recupel collected fewer cathode-ray screens - reflecting the simple fact that there are fewer and fewer old TVs and monitors (-9.2%) in circulation - but in all other categories more equipment was collected than in 2015.

"Big White" and "Cooling and Freezing" appliances showed an unmistakeable increase, but it was above all the collection of lamps and small electrical and electronic devices that was a success : the quantity of collected pieces of the latter rose by 21.4% and 20.1%, respectively. The category "Other" (among which "small electrical and electronic devices") is the most rapidly rising type of electrical and electronic waste. Recupel expects that this trend will continue in the coming years and we will therefore continue to focus on the collection of small electrical and electronic equipment.

Evolution of electrical and electronic equipment collected by Recupel per fraction 2003-2016

Since Recupel was created 15 years ago, moreover, 221,417,278 devices have already been collected, together amounting to more than 1.3 million tonnes, as calculated on the occasion of the anniversary in 2016. Figures that give the 32 million devices of 2016 added lustre...

Out Of Market / Put On Market

Put on market (POM) vs. Out of market via Recupel (OOM)

In the meantime, in Belgium 41% of the volume of electrical and electronic devices that are put on market (POM) find their way out of market (OOM) via the Recupel system. This makes our country amongst the most efficient in the world. By 2019, however, all Member States of the European Union are obliged to collect 65% of the volume of electrical and electronic devices that are put on the market for reuse or recycling.

"Naturally, Recupel will therefore continue to promote collection," says Recupel CEO Peter Sabbe , "but together with the other social players we also want to better map out the e-waste flows in the coming years. For some of the 59% of electrical and electronic devices that for the moment are not taken out of market via Recupel, today we have a pretty good idea of what happens with it : it is for example reported in individual plans, that it is mixed with scrap waste or leaves Belgium via legal and illegal export. However, we have no idea where that remaining 30% ends up."

A study conducted in 2014 in collaboration with the United Nations University showed that in Belgium each year, 22.4 kg of electrical and electronic waste was generated per inhabitant. Over 10 kg of this was officially collected and registered, 5.1 kg was documented, but nothing is known about the remaining 6.8 kilos. " It thus remains a top priority in the coming years as well to get a better view of this, together with government authorities, the distribution sector, producers and recyclers," Peter Sabbe concludes.

Moreover, the fact that there is still so much room for growth in the area of the collection of old electrical and electronic equipment was highlighted in 2016 in numerous messages that circulated in the (social) media thanks to Recupel, from "An average Flemish family has 77 electronic appliances at home, ranging from the refrigerator and the clothes iron to a small digital weather station or a sanding machine" in Het Nieuwsblad to "Recupel estimates that another million unused laptops are lying around gathering dust in Belgian homes" and "One in five coffee machines stand unused in the kitchen cabinet," on Twitter.

41% of the volume of electrical and electronic equipment that is put on the market is collected via Recupel for reuse or recycling

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4. Collection network

The number of RecylePoints passed the threshold of 2,000 in 2016

In 2016 the recycling parks remained the collection channel with the largest volume, but it was above all the RecyclePoints, mainly in stores, that gained in importance - fortunately not at the expense of the other collection channels. The chain also passed an independent test with flying colours in 2016.

In 2016 Recupel could once again guarantee that a properly collected electrical or electronic device would reach the proper destination via the chain. The chain’s functioning was independently tested by the consumer organisation Test-Aankoop. And the results of that study proved, as expected, a success for Recupel. An excerpt :

"We brought a washing machine into the container park in Vorst,” reported Carine Deschamps and Paul Nies in Test-Aankoop in October 2016, “and scarcely six days later it was already processed into metal and plastic after having made a trip of scarcely 50 kilometres, to Belgian Electric Electronic Recycling in Willebroek. Efficient! Two of the four refrigerators were also quickly disassembled : one after five days, another after six days. At that moment they had travelled just over 100 kilometres. The one refrigerator was brought directly from the container park in Vorst to Recydel in Liège, while the other was brought in at Tournai, was then stored for several days in a warehouse in Mouscroun, in order to then be processed by Cornet Sambre in Mons."

(Source : Carine Deschamps and Paul Nies, Tijd voor grote kuis (Time for the big cleanup), in : Test-Aankoop, 1 October 2016, p. 22-24.)

Recupel is very pleased about the fact that the success of the RecyclePoints did not come at the expense of other collection channels, because this shows that RecyclePoints not only increase the collection comfort for consumers, but also that these consumers are beginning to adopt interesting new discard habits, even if in 2016 the recycling parks remained the collection channel with the largest overall volume. Moreover, the comfort of consumers and companies is also increased through the search function on the website which was updated in 2016, where you can now very easily find the nearest collection point.

In 2016 the number of RecyclePoints passed the threshold of 2,000, with 2,004 active RecyclePoints throughout Belgium, which are also being used ever more intensively. A study showed that 40% of consumers find the RecyclePoints to be a good supplement to the recycling park. The expansion of the RecyclePoint network led to an increase in the number of pick-ups per month. And recent figures demonstrate that the RecyclePoints caused the quantity of collected small electrical and electronic devices to increase by several thousand tonnes in 2016, compared to the previous year. One mustn’t forget that the RecyclePoints were only introduced in 2014; by the end of 2015 there were already more than 1,500 distributed throughout the country, and in 2016 thus more than 2,000. In terms of collection network, Belgium can confidently toss its hat in the ring for the title of ´world’s best urban miner´.

Also in terms of collection network, Belgium can confidently compete for the title of 'world’s best urban miner'

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5. Recycling figures

Recycled electrical and electronic equipment good for 82,000 tonnes of raw materials in 2016

In 2016 Recupel may justifiably call itself the Belgian urban mining expert for old electrical and electronic equipment - and this not only in terms of collection, but also with regard to the processing of e-waste into new raw materials.

Collected devices are first depolluted by Recupel-certified Recyclers, freed of their harmful substances and then optimally processed into new raw materials. This process is a vital link in the circular economy.

In this way, an average of between 80% and 90% of an electrical and electronic device becomes new raw material. Thus in 2016 a total of more than 82,000 tonnes of raw materials could be used for the production of new devices; raw materials that therefore no longer have to be extracted from the earth via classic mining, including 46,259 tonnes of recycled ferrous material and 12,880 tonnes of recycled plastic.

In 2016 manual depollution - in which the social economy plays a major role - assured that 12,500 tonnes of harmful substances, such as mercury, CFC and fluorescent powders, did not find their way into the environment.

And then there were also the 1,410,000 collected devices that didn’t need to be disassembled because they could be sent directly to the reuse circuit. That is a sharp increase compared to 2015, which is due to the ever-greater reuse of smaller electronic devices, an evolution that certainly favours our society’s sustainability.

*Small electrical and electronical devices

And by the way : parallel to these excellent recycling figures is a similar increase in employment in the recycling sector. For example, sector federation Go4Circle is reporting a striking rate of job growth. For the period 2011-2016, Joint Committee 142, which can be regarded as a representative sample of the recycling sector, notes an increase in employment of 11.7% - including 6% in 2016 alone.

And “the growth is the most striking in the category of various materials: the recycling of plastic, tyres, glass and so on accounts for over 38% more employees. Above all semi- and unskilled blue-collar workers get opportunities in this branch, a group that is finding fewer and fewer openings in other sectors,” observes Go4Circle.

1,410,000 collected devices didn’t even have to be dismantled, because they were fit for reuse

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6. Annual Balance sheet

Recupel could further reduce the reserves in 2016

In 2016 a total of around €17 million in contributions were collected. The total operating costs amounted to around €42 million. Most of the costs could still be financed with the reserves.

The total financial reserves (provisions and working reserves), built up through a cautious determination of the initial contributions, are thus being systematically further reduced. The objective remains to arrive at a "pay-as-you-go" system, whereby the Recupel contribution belonging to an appliance fully covers the costs of collecting, transporting and recycling that same appliance.

A security fund must guarantee Recupel’s continuity in the event of a worsening market situation, such as disadvantageous fluctuations in raw material prices, falling sales figures or other external factors.

It is important to take into account that the graph below consolidates the data of 7 separate Recupel entities, all representing a specific sector. Their funds are not linked to each other, and the amount of financial reserves is different for each entity. The proportion between the different financial means also differs widely between the sectors.

 

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Annual balance sheet Recupel

ASSETS

2016

2015

Intangible fixed assets

2.165,14

3.876,82

Tangible fixed assets

2.670.244,12

1.990.073,51

Financial fixed assets

140,00

Fixed assets

2.672.549,26

1.993.950,33

Accounts receivable within one year

8.379.385,39

4.986.282,42

Cash

1.609.729,52

3.998.274,99

Deferrals and accruals

105.594,30

89.429,36

Current assets

10.094.709,21

9.073.986,77

TOTAL ASSETS

12.767.258,47

11.067.937,10

LIABILITIES

2016

2015

Accruals for risks and costs

0,00

292.000,00

Accruals

0,00

292.000,00

Accounts payable within one year

12.767.285,47

10.775.937,10

Current liabilities

12.767.285,47

10.775.937,10

TOTAL LIABILITIES

12.767.285,47

11.067.937,10

RESULT OF THE YEAR

2016

2015

Turnover

43.526.438,98

42.062.807,09

Operating income

43.526.438,98

42.062.807,09

Services and other

-40.291.580,24

-38.411.964,68

Remunerations and direct social securities

-2.587.993,19

-2.505.204,03

Depreciations, provisions

-946.577,19

-955.690,05

Accruals for risks and costs

292.000,00

-192.000,00

Other operating charges

-48.528,47

-40.958,46

Operating charges

-43.528.679,09

-42.105.817,22

OPERATING PROFIT/LOSS

-56.240,11

-43.010,13

Financial income

84.574,11

33.476,48

Financial charges

-51.657,39

-31.047,00

Financial results

32.916,72

2.429,48

Exceptional results

23.323,39

40.580,65

Result to be carried forward

0,00

0,00

 

Financial balance sheet sectors

 
ASSETS
Accounts receivable within one year
Cash
Deferrals and accruals
CURRENT ASSETS
TOTAL ASSETS
LIABILITIES
Allocated funds
Profit carried forward
CAPITAL AND RESERVES
Accruals for risks and costs
ACCRUALS
Accounts payable within one year
Deferrals and accruals
CURRENT LIABILITIES
TOTAL LIABILITIES
Results account (31 December 2016)
Turnover
Other operating income
OPERATING INCOME
Purchases
Services and other
Depreciation
Accruals for risks and costs
Other operating costs
OPERATING CHARGES
OPERATING PROFIT/LOSS
Financial income
Financial charges
FINANCIAL RESULTS
Extraordinary income
Extraordinary results
RESULT TO BE CARRIED FORWARD
BW-REC
 
2.902.630,26
73.851.609,76
5.739,42
76.759.979,44
76.759.979,44
 
10.492.115,07
1.087.083,64
11.579.198,71
62.603.856,35
62.603.856,35
2.576.924,23
0,15
2.576.924,38
76.759.979,44
 
8.069.342,65
130.513,89
8.199.856,54
-12.451.772,37
-1.412.672,35
55.918,54
7.218.256,88
-123.359,77
-6.713.629,07
1.486.227,47
115.052,61
-125,38
114.927,23
 
0,00
1.601.154,70
RECUPEL AV
 
1.970.287,53
26.786.321,42
2.535,38
28.759.144,33
28.759.144,33
 
9.164.763,00
14.045.772,54
23.210.535,54
4.587.206,08
4.587.206,08
961.402,56
0,15
961.402,71
28.759.144,33
 
1.204.763,87
838.409,97
2.043.173,84
-5.935.419,82
-1.294.880,31
940,11
3.290.531,84
-495.945,83
-495.945,83
-2.391.600,17
53.137,86
-122,07
53.015,79
118.348,82
118.348,82
-2.220.235,56
BW-REC
 
2.902.630,26
73.851.609,76
5.739,42
76.759.979,44
76.759.979,44
 
10.492.115,07
1.087.083,64
11.579.198,71
62.603.856,35
62.603.856,35
2.576.924,23
0,15
2.576.924,38
76.759.979,44
 
8.069.342,65
130.513,89
8.199.856,54
-12.451.772,37
-1.412.672,35
55.918,54
7.218.256,88
-123.359,77
-6.713.629,07
1.486.227,47
115.052,61
-125,38
114.927,23
 
0,00
1.601.154,70
RECUPEL AV
 
1.970.287,53
26.786.321,42
2.535,38
28.759.144,33
28.759.144,33
 
9.164.763,00
14.045.772,54
23.210.535,54
4.587.206,08
4.587.206,08
961.402,56
0,15
961.402,71
28.759.144,33
 
1.204.763,87
838.409,97
2.043.173,84
-5.935.419,82
-1.294.880,31
940,11
3.290.531,84
-495.945,83
-495.945,83
-2.391.600,17
53.137,86
-122,07
53.015,79
118.348,82
118.348,82
-2.220.235,56
RECUPEL SDA
 
1.812.140,37
20.831.349,62
2.064,85
22.645.554,84
22.645.554,84
 
4.822.844,00
16.461.084,80
21.283.928,80
313.830,83
313.830,83
1.047.795,06
0,15
1.047.795,21
22.645.554,84
 
811.382,24
769.693,05
1.581.075,29
-1.740.253,37
-1.600.783,02
10.086,49
497.932,15
-463.663,98
-3.296.681,73
-1.715.606,44
37.691,49
-197,79
37.493,70
0,00
0,00
-1.678.112,74
RECUPEL ICT
 
1.926.400,38
17.001.828,73
2.173,90
18.930.403,01
18.930.403,01
 
5.516.992,43
12.202.345,49
17.719.337,92
0,00
0,00
1.211.064,94
0,15
1.211.065,09
18.930.403,01
 
1.790.188,01
671.324,19
2.461.512,20
-2.886.221,60
-1.616.629,89
138.772,89
23.062,90
-395.982,55
-4.736.998,25
-2.275.486,05
37.724,00
-78,60
37.645,40
594.183,97
594.183,97
-1.643.656,68
RECUPEL ET&G
 
1.043.604,13
13.857.712,98
2.615,60
14.903.932,71
14.903.932,71
 
2.311.097,00
11.074.687,59
13.385.784,59
1.014.372,08
1.014.372,08
503.775,54
0,50
503.776,04
14.903.932,71
 
456.418,54
458.196,09
914.614,63
-802.208,92
-1.299.092,75
5.915,15
436.636,75
-278.044,58
-1.936.794,35
-1.022.179,72
327.884,53
-322,25
27.562,28
 
0,00
-994.617,44
LightRec
 
2.963.126,26
43.697.011,96
4.834,42
46.664.972,64
46.664.972,64
 
6.278.061,00
22.712.528,30
28.990.589,30
16.053.580,93
16.053.580,93
1.620.802,26
0,15
1.620.802,41
46.664.972,64
 
3.188.042,07
1.082.100,34
4.270.142,41
-2.600.562,00
-3.082.597,85
-111,28
1.923.857,66
-535.714,95
-4.295.128,42
-24.986,01
69.281,26
-570,91
68.710,35
 
0,00
43.724,34
RECUPEL SDA
 
872.069,50
6.308.794,29
477,62
7.181.341,41
7.181.341,41
 
1.055.835,00
5.589.573,49
6.645.408,49
24.933,29
24.933,29
510.999,48
0,15
510.999,48
510.999,48
 
1.170.575,21
232.539,03
1.403.114,24
-592.989,24
-1.353.629,37
6.091,70
35.260,11
-138.804,22
-2.044.071,02
-640.956,78
9.273,83
-109,98
9.163,85
 
0,00
-631.792,93
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7. Member satisfaction

Attention to services continued to yield results in 2016 as well

The relationship with members and the distribution sector was again studied in 2016. This survey revealed that Recupel’s constant attention to an optimal provision of services continues to yield results, which didn´t stop the surveys from also being used as an efficient source for defining action items in order to ensure continuous improvement of the system.

Among other things, the member survey demonstrated that the toll-free 0800 numbers and the online contact form are continuing to gain in popularity amongst the Recupel members. Both knowledge about (68%) and use of (42%) the 0800 numbers in order to contact the departments inside Recupel have already increased significantly. And the online contact form also scored well.

Members increasingly choose the website for verifying the Recupel contribution that applies to a particular appliance (78%, compared to 72% in 2015.) And more than 90% of the members who used the website say they found the information they were looking for. Like last year, two-thirds of the members are satisfied to very satisfied, about both the reporting app available online and the invoicing itself. The auditing procedure was also positively evaluated: members were informed in good time and received the opportunity to formulate comments that were then correctly followed up.

The survey of distributors revealed that virtually all of the distributors know Recupel. Their customers are neutral to positive concerning the contribution. Only a limited number of distributors indicate that they get questions from customers about the Recupel contribution.

In addition, the survey indicates that surprisingly few distributors (33%) use the Recupel website. We take that figure as an important point of attention for the coming years, above all because it appears that 9 out of 10 distributors who do use the website find what they’re looking for. In coming years we will continue to invest in a smooth circulation of information to the distribution sector, both via our own channels such as the website and e-mailings, and via the channels of our partners.

Finally, the survey zooms in on the distributors who actively work together with Recupel as a pick-up point. The satisfaction remains high in this group as well: 9 out of 10 pick-up points are satisfied to very satisfied about the collaboration with Recupel. On average they give Recupel a score of 8/10.

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