Industry, NGOs and consumers join forces on electronic waste
In the run-up to the second reading in the Parliament, industry, environmental NGOs and consumers published a joint statement on producer responsibility in the WEEE directive.
The common position agreed by the Council in June 2001 rejected the proposal by the European Parliament to create individual producer responsibility for recycling. Instead, the Council proposed that the WEEE should be collectively financed by all producers. In addition, it proposed that WEEE stemming from producers that are no longer present on the market, should be financed collectively by the remaining producers. (see alsoEurActiv 8 June 2001)
The draft directive on waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and its companion draft directive restricting the use of hazardous substances in electrical equipment (ROHS) were adopted by the Commission on 13 June 2000. One of the main elements of the WEEE directive is the intention to increase producers' responsibility to collect and recycle electroscrap. In addition, it aims to stimulate manufacturers to introduce more environmentally-friendly designs for their products.
A joint statementon producer responsibility for WEEE was signed by industry (e.g. Elextrolux, Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, American Electronics Association), the European consumers' organisation (BEUC) and environmental NGOs (European Environmental Bureau and Bellona). It calls on the European Parliament to reintroduce in its second reading individual producer responsibility for the following reasons:
- If companies are to share costs in a collective system, there is no incentive for an individual company to develop new more environmentally-friendly design.
- Less serious importers could dump products on the market at a lower price (avoiding paying the recycling costs), disappear from the market and leave the costs of the recycling to the collective scheme (financed by established companies).
- The authorities should control producers and their compliance with regulations. This is more difficult if companies do not have an individual responsibility for the WEEE management.
The European Parliament'srapporteur Mr. Florenz (EPP/ED Group) will present his proposal to the Environment Committee on 19 February. In the draft proposal he reiterates the European Parliament's demand from the first reading that WEEE should be managed through individual responsibility.
The European Parliament is expected to vote on the WEEE directive (second reading) in April 2002. The two directives should come into effect in 2004.