Electrical waste: MEPs agree to modification of producer responsibility rules

On 8 September, the EP Environment Committee gave its support to a Commission proposal amending the rules for producer responsibility in the Directive on waste from electrical and electronic equipment.

On 8 September, MEP Kathleen Van Brempt tabled an oral question to the Commission to clarify the implications of this change. The Commission explained that the new system was the most practicable as it is already in place for other products.

The majority of the members of the Environment Committee agreed with this explanation and the need to change the producer responsibility for historical waste from professional goods, i.e put on the market before the directive comes into force.

The Parliament rapporteur, Karl-Heinz Florenz, recommends to accept the Commission’s proposal without amendments.

 

Clare Snow, director of the Industry Council for Electronic Equipment Recycling said: “The existing Article 9 means producers could be liable for any piece of equipment they’ve ever produced. The revised wording means that producers will be taking back old for new equipment. The net effect is to limit the liability of producers, so they can correlate roughly what they sell to the amount they will be responsible for.”

 

The Directive on waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) was adopted at the end of 2002. Its article 9 stipulates that the financing of collection, treatment, re-use, recovery and environmentally sound disposal of WEEE is to be provided by producers.

The take-back obligation for waste equipment put on the market in the past creates a retroactive liability. Concern has been expressed that, depending upon the size of the liability, companies already in difficulties might be forced into insolvency.

During their conciliation meeting on 10 October 2002, the Parliament, the Council and the Commission agreed that if the concerns about the financial implications of the producer responsibility prove to be founded, the Commission would make a proposal to amend Article 9 of the Directive.

After intensive lobbying, the Commission agreed with producers that the current wording of article 9 creates a disproportionate burden on some companies with a large market share in the past. On 29 April 2003, it made a proposal shifting the responsibility for financing the take back of historical equipment from the producer of the waste equipment to the producer of the new equipment when selling a new product that replaces products of equivalent type or fulfilling the same function. Where waste from professional goods is not replaced by new products, the professional users should be responsible.

 

  • The Environment Committee will vote on the report on 2 October.
  • The Parliament will then examine the report during its plenary session from 20 to 23 October.

 

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