EU Passes WEEE Recast, Requires Up to 85% E-Waste Recycling

by | Jan 20, 2012

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The European Parliament has passed more stringent targets under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, requiring member states to collect 65 to 85 percent of their e-waste by 2019.

The new rules amend the Directive 2002/96/EC, in force since February 2003, which provides for the creation of e-waste collection programs.

Under the new regulations, manufacturers will be required to recycle larger items such as washing machines, the BBC reported. Big stores selling electrical items will have to accept small pieces of e-waste such as cell phones, regardless of whether customers buy replacement items.

The regulations also set documentation requirements for exporters shipping e-waste for repair or re-use, in an effort to stop illegal shipments to developing countries.

Member states will by 2016 have to collect 45 percent of electronics goods put on sale during the previous three years, the BBC reports. By 2019, the target will rise to 65 percent of e-waste on sale – or if they prefer, member states can instead collect 85 percent of total e-waste generated. The latter target would ensure that about 10 million tons, or 20 kg per capita, would be collected in 2020.

Some states may be allowed to fall short if they lack the needed infrastructure or have low levels of electronic consumption. Ten EU states have until 2021 to reach the new targets. All ten are relative newcomers to the EU, having joined in 2004 and 2007, and are mostly located in the former communist bloc.

The current required e-waste collection rate is 8.8 pounds per person or about two million tons per year, out of about 10 million tons generated. The EU says that only about a third of e-waste is disposed of properly, and estimates that the volume of e-waste will increase to 12 million tons by 2020.

The recast includes steps to harmonize national registration and reporting requirements. Member states’ registers for producers of electrical and electronic equipment will now have to be integrated more closely.

The Commission has promised to ease the transition by adopting a harmonized format to be used for supplying information. It estimates that these steps will reduce administrative costs by about 66 million euros per year.

Before becoming law, the new rules need to be formally adopted by the EU’s Council of Ministers. The rules are expected to officially become law in 2014.

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