electronic waste

EU e-Waste Directive Unchanged

The European Commission decided on Dec. 3 to table a proposed review of the EU Directive on Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), which was enacted five years ago to increase the reuse and recycling of the 35-40 pounds of computers, TVs, cell phones, light bulbs, refrigerators, and other cast-off electronic equipment estimated by the EC to be generated annually by each European citizen. Most of the discarded material is waste sent to landfills, but there is pressure both to raise the amount that is recycled and to make manufacturers pay for household collection. Collection costs should be shifted from taxpayers to consumers of the electrical equipment through producers, the EC says.

EICTA, the voice of EU information and communications technology and consumer electronics industries, said it was feared the proposed revision of the WEEE Directive would set "unrealistic and unachievable collection targets" for recycling and would "massively increase the costs of compliance with no environmental benefit." The European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers' Secretary General, Luigi Meli, said the cost of recycling would double if the proposal were adopted.

Another EU directive also applies to e-Waste: the Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS). Both directives took effect in 2003 but are criticized for being complicated, expensive, and difficult to implement. The proposed review is intended to address technical, legal, and administrative difficulties from the directives and reduce unintended costs.

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