SRI Egypt completes A Study Tour to Switzerland and Belgium

The Swiss Sustainable Recycling Industries (SRI) Programme has just concluded a 4-day Study Tour for its Egyptian partners and beneficiaries on E-waste and Recycling which took place from 15 to 20 April 2018. The study tour aimed at addressing the questions and concerns among the stakeholders of the present system (Ministries and recycling companies) and providing additional experience for a successful continuation of the efforts of the SRI project Management team and stakeholders.

The Egyptian side was presented by the Director of ICT infrastructure, the Egyptian Ministry of Communication & Information Technology (MCIT) and head of SRI Egypt steering committee; Business Development Director, MCIT; Local Project Manager, CEDARE; Local Project Leader, CEDARE; and 2 Egyptian recyclers. The visit covered dismantling and recycling facilities of small, medium & large sizes in both Switzerland and Belgium.

In response to a request from the Project beneficiaries and stakeholders in Egypt, this study tour was arranged by the SRI Programme adding to many others organized for implementing partners in other countries. After 2 years of operation in Egypt, recyclers and auditors’ were still having queries, hence, a first-hand study tour was an important prerequisite. In the course of the tour, they acquired a detailed idea about the specific stages of the e-waste management process. This was realized through visiting sites, facilities, or organizations specialized in the collection, transportation, uploading, dismantling, sorting & treatment of fractions (plastics, printed circuit boards, or light sources), depollution, mechanical shredding, and recycling. This was along with auditing and legislation aspects.

The very first site was a medium-sized e-waste recycler, where mechanical shredding for scrap vehicles was observed. On the same day, a manual dismantling facility for e-waste as well as a florescent and light sources recycling site were visited. The group was introduced to hazardous waste treatment as well.

On the second day, the agenda involved visits to a waste & e-waste collection point, a medium-sized mechanical e-waste recycler and a plastic sorting unit. In the meantime, The Swiss Federal Office of Environment (BAFU) hosted the team and introduced them on the Swiss techniques of handling illegal export of e-waste in light of Basel Convention. The current updates in the Swiss legislation on e-waste were also discussed.

Day three involved a visit to a large-sized e-waste recycler using a mechanical shredder in addition to a visit to the Swiss electrical appliances producer responsible organization. Moreover, The Swiss Economic Association for the Suppliers of Information, Communication, & Organizational Technology (SWICO) was another destination, where the team attended a comprehensive presentation on the auditing techniques in Switzerland.

The fourth and last day was dedicated to visiting a large scale precious metal refinery for printed circuit boards. Then, the group moved to the Port of Antwerp and an export firm where they witnessed uploading the selected containers for environmental inspection.

All in all, the tour was an effective first-hand learning experience to the Egyptian side, who managed to acquire full knowledge about the successful Swiss and Belgian e-waste management practices. On the other hand, the participants treasured the fact that the tackled topics were diverse yet specialized. Imparting such knowledge to other recyclers and stakeholders in Egypt will definitely be an added value to the matrix of e-waste management in Egypt.  Also, the supportive efforts of the teams from Sofies, EMPA, and WRFA highly contributed to the success and positive impact of the tour.

The SECO-funded SRI project, which established a Swiss-Egyptian partnership since 2016, aims to introduce sustainable e-waste recycling industries to Egypt through the provision of legal, administrative and technical support as well as capacity building and training. The integration and participation of small and medium enterprises in the recycling of electronic waste, governance and safe management of non-renewable resources is the main deliverable. It further aims at creating job opportunities and increasing local competencies of both the formal and informal sectors in order to achieve sustainability in the recycling process.