Ringing the cowbell for a real circular economy
This winter, the IERC, the International Electronics Recycling Congress, took place in Salzburg from 18 to 20 January. About 400 participants on site and online discussed the current challenges of the industry. This annual meeting has been taking place since the beginning of the 2000s, previously in Basel, Hamburg and Davos and for the last 14 years now in Salzburg. From the very beginning, representatives of the Müller-Guttenbrunn Group have played a leading role as participants, discussants and input suppliers - first and foremost Chris Slijkhuis, who has been involved on behalf of MGG for almost two decades as an expert in the field of Europe-wide e-scrap recycling.
The IERC is mainly used by recyclers and the supplier industry for networking, which Slijkhuis assesses with one laughing and one crying eye: „Of course it is good if we in the industry regularly exchange and coordinate across Europe and internationally. But I find it a bit of a pity that fewer and fewer manufacturers are on board at this event. Because it is precisely those companies that bring the recycled material back into the economic cycle that are essential.“
The „Circular Economy“ was also the primary theme at IERC 2023, with several discussion panels and presentations. Around the „Circular Economy“, the political aspects were explained, the industry's points of view were discussed and technical advancements were presented.
Chris Slijkhuis received the IERC Honorary Award
Every year, the IERC brings a member of the international recycling industry to the forefront and presents him or her with an award of recognition. The so-called Honorary Award, which used to be called the „Cowbell Award“ because of its design as a giant Swiss cowbell, went this year to Chris Slijkhuis of MGG. Following Christian Müller-Guttenbrunn in 2017, Slijkhuis is the second dignitary from the Müller-Guttenbrunn Group to receive the famous cowbell for his promotion of the European e-scrap processing sector. Specifically, the committee justified the award decision as follows: „Chris Slijkhuis receives this award in recognition of his lifetime achievements as a plastic recycling expert. He has been an active promotor of compliant solutions, with a deep understanding of all technical and legal aspects of the end processing and recovery industry. His work has made a great contribution to our society and industry, as well as to the International Electronics Recycling Congress throughout his career.
“The MGG veteran, who hails from Holland, was overwhelmed above all: „I am overwhelmed by the decision of the steering committee to choose me for this honorary award. I am merely one of the many cogwheels in this WEEE recycling clockwork. But at the same time, I believe that this decision is also a choice for rewarding the WEEE plastics recycling industry as a whole and in that sense, I see this award also as a wonderful recognition for the work that WEEE plastics recyclers have been doing to get there where we are today,“ Slijkhuis explained in his acceptance speech, in which he further elaborated that „the development of this WEEE plastics recycling industry is a fascinating story with many hurdles and problems but also with successes.
Today I see this WEEE plastic recycling industry still as a starting industry, but we managed to develop processes and a market for Post-Consumer Recycled plastics from WEEE even within high-tech markets.“ He thanked everyone involved in the industry - loyal suppliers, brave customers, innovative and hard-working colleagues and, of course, the recycling industry networks and associations EERA, StEP, EuRIC and BSEF.
At the end of his words of thanks, Chris Slijkhuis, who has officially been in "retirement" for about a year, got very personal: „Please allow me to thank especially my wonderful wife Elsie, who is here with me today. She gave up her career to accompany me abroad for us to become an expat family. Els allowed me to spend far too much time away from home and to accept me to even often work when at home. I am so happy that you are here now so that I can publicly tell her how grateful I am.“
Excursion to MGG works with „wow effect“
But the Müller-Guttenbrunn Group was not only the centre of attention for the IERC participants during the discussion panels and the Honorary Award. The three plants MGG Metrec, MGG Metran and MGG Polymers were also the destination of a technical excursion for the congress participants. Around 50 people visited the Mostviertel production sites of MGG and were enthusiastic: „I can only say: Wow! How the recycling cycle is closed here by the three Müller-Guttenbrunn plants - from scrap to the new product - is very impressive. This illustration of the entire recycling process, but also the enormously high level of innovation with the constant new development and separation and processing ideas, makes MGG truly a pioneer in the European recycling industry,“ summed up one excursion participant.