Sustainability Principles for Recycling Proposed

WRF Program Manager Sonia Valdivia recycling SRI
WRF Program Manager Sonia Valdivia

Berlin, 9 September 2016  “Fighting for survival is not equal to informal work”, WRF Program Manager Sonia Valdivia said in Berlin. She spoke last week at the “Electronic Goes Green Conference” and presented a framework document addressing how poor people in developing countries can be integrated into sustainable metal recycling chains. Most individuals involved in waste picking and crude recycling are merely making enough money to buy food for their families. As such they should not be confused with the informal sector, which are business activities that purposely desire to bypass national and/or local laws and regulations.

Recycling of waste that contains metals is a growing economic opportunity for micro, small and medium enterprises and an important income source for the informal sector in developing and emerging economies. Mechanisms to track sustainable recovery have not been fully developed yet.This is why the Guidance Principles for the Sustainable Management of Metals are being developed in an ISO process. The project is part of the Sustainable Recycling Industries (SRI) program, jointly implemented by the World Resources Forum and Empa, and supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO.

The Guidance Principles recommend 5 sustainability principles and 17 objectives, a gradual implementation approach and an assurance system and traceability mechanism (chain of custody) to economic operators, governments, and standards initiatives, willing to enforce the sustainable recovery of metals. The Guidance Principles are developed under an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) International Workshop Agreement (IWA) process and aim to especially benefit economic operators in developing and emerging countries with weak regulations and enforcement.

sri_logo_rgb_weissAlmost 400 delegates from 35 different countries participated this year in the Berlin Electronic Goes Green conference which had five tracks and close to 200 presentations in 50 sessions. Sonia’s presentation can be downloaded from the SRI website.