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Europe set for higher WEEE targets

Europe – Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have confirmed plans to introduce higher targets for the collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and to allow consumers to return electrical goods to retailers.

The agreed targets will require member states to increase their WEEE collection rates above the current target of 4 kg per person. As of 2016, well over 40 000 kg of WEEE will need to be collected for every 90 000 kg put on to the market in the three preceding years. By 2019, the requirement is expected to reach a total of 58 000 kg.

German MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz says: ‘After difficult negotiations, I am very satisfied that we have agreed ambitious but achievable collection rates with the Council. Europe will now recover more raw materials, which is excellent news both for the economy and the environment.’
The Parliament has also agreed on proposals for a retailer take-back scheme that stipulate consumers may take small WEEE items to an electrical retailer free of charge, without having to purchase a new product. This rule will apply to any retailer of electrical goods who owns a shop of 400 square metres or larger.

Additionally, MEPs agreed on the necessity of implementing much tougher restrictions on the illegal export of WEEE in order to prevent processing in countries where conditions are hazardous to both workers and the environment. In the future, it will be the responsibility of exporters to prove that goods are really being shipped abroad for repair or reuse.

European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik is content with the outcome, saying: ‘In these challenging times of economic change and rising prices for raw materials, resource efficiency is where environmental benefits and innovative growth opportunities for European industry come together.

The waste stream with the greatest relevance in this respect is electrical and electronic waste. Today, the European Parliament has given a great boost to this policy, raising the binding collection levels to 85% by 2019. I hope this will encourage some Member States to be more ambitious, and meet the new targets even sooner than this deadline.’

EU member states are given 18 months to update their national legislation accordingly. 


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