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EU enforces stricter e-waste directive

United States – The Council of the European Union has adopted a new directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), with the aim of enhancing collection, reuse and recycling of e-waste. The move is designed to clamp down on illegal exports of e-waste from the EU as well as ‘€˜greening’€™ operators’€™ performance.

Under the current directive, all member states are required to collect 45% of the average weight of e-waste equipment arising through their national markets. The updated rules will require a 65% collection rate, though the Council has said there may be some flexibility in EU states where there is lower use of electronic devices.

The scope of the legislation is also widening. Specific items of electric and electronic equipment, such as photovoltaic panels, equipment containing ozone-depleting substances and fluorescent lamps containing mercury, will have to be collected separately and properly treated within six years of the new directive passing into law. The Commission said it reserved the right to implement further changes after analysing the impact on businesses and the environment.

Additionally, the directive establishes producer responsibility, as a means of encouraging designers and producers of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) to take into full account and facilitate its repair, upgrading, reuse, disassembly and recycling. It also requires retail outlets with EEE-related sales areas of at least 400 square metres to make provision for the collection of very small WEEE (maximum 25 cm) free of charge to end users.

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