Wednesday, January 21, 2009

EU Proposes Revision To WEEE Directive

The Waste Electronics and Electric Equipment (WEEE) Directive came into force in 2003. Soon after a number of technical, legal and administrative difficulties became apparent; therefore the WEEE Directive was thus called out for up-date and simplification.

The WEEE Directive aims to 1) prevent the generation of electrical and electronic waste and 2) to promote reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery to reduce the quantity of waste discarded. It requires the collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment and the recovery and reuse or recycling of waste collected.

The directive is based on producer responsibility; producers of equipment used by private households are responsible for providing financing for the collection, treatment, recovery and environmentally-sound disposal of WEEE deposited at collection facilities. Producers of equipment used by others than private households are financially responsible for the costs of collection, treatment, recovery and environmentally-sound disposal.

Member States are required to draw up a register of producers and collect information on an annual basis on the quantities and categories of electrical and electronic equipment placed on their market, collected, re-used, recycled and recovered within that Member State and on collected waste exported.

Since 2003 data have shown that the Directive's goals could not be achieved at current collection and recycling rates. An EU review of the Directive required the Commission to propose new mandatory WEEE collection target and new targets for recovery and re-use or recycling, including for reusing whole appliances as appropriate, and targets for electrical and electronic medical devices. A new provision is added to harmonize producer registration and reporting in the EU by making national registers inter-operable.

Experience with the WEEE Directive also points to implementation problems resulting in a high percentage of WEEE not handled according to the requirements of the directive. It also shows that a significant amount of illegal shipments of polluting E-waste finds its way to developing countries where is has an impact on the health of local populations. To close the implementation gap, the EU proposes to strengthen the enforcement of the WEEE Directive.

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