European Parliament to take decision on electronic waste

On 10 April 2002, the European Parliament is expected to adopt its opinion on the draft directives on electronic waste and hazardous substances. The organisation of producer responsibility will most likely lead to tough negotiations.

On 21 March, the Parliament’s Environment Committee adopted draft opinions on the WEEE and the ROHS directives. The main issues in the report for the second reading on the WEEE directive are:

  • individual producer responsibility is demanded for WEEE, but where the producer no longer exists, or is unknown, collective responsibility should be applied (the Council has demanded collective responsibility in both cases);
  • producers should set up appropriate guarantees for financing the management of WEEE;
  • the collection rate target of WEEE should be raised to 6 kilograms per capita (the Council suggested 4 kilograms);
  • small producers (turnover of less than 2m euros and fewer than 10 employees) should not be excluded from the directive, as suggested by the Council;
  • provisions on user information should be strengthened.

With respect to the ROHS directive, the rapporteur suggests that the ban of all concerned substances should come into force at the same time, on 1 January 2006.

 

The electronic industry, consumer organisations and environmental NGOs have joined forces to call on the European Parliament to introduce individual producer responsibility also for the so called 'orphan waste'. They argue that collective responsibility will encourage free-riders.

The European organisation for SMEs,UEAPME, has sent a letter to MEPs asking them to refuse the amendment from the Environment Committee that would delete the proposed temporary exemption of small companies from the WEEE directive. UEPME states that the initial costs associated with the recovery and treatment of WEEE will be too high for micro-businesses to support. The proposal by the Council to introduce a 5 year exemption for SMEs would give the industry a smoother phase-in period. In addition, UEAPME opposes the proposed individual producer responsibility in all cases, also when the producer is known.

 

The proposal for a directive on the 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 electronic scrap.

 

The reports on the WEEE and the ROHS directives are scheduled for adoption in the Parliament's plenary session on 10 April. Considering the remaining differences between the Parliament's position and the Council, it is likely that the WEEE directive will go to conciliation.

 

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