Consumer electronic manufacturers including Sony, Nokia and HP, and NGOs ranging from Greenpeace to Friends of the Earth, have called on the Commission to take action against 11 member states that have transposed the WEEE directive without making producers fully responsible for the recycling of electrical and electronic products.
The joint statement says that although 12 member states have incorporated the provisions corresponding to Article 8.2 correctly, 11 (Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Latvia, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and the UK) have failed to do so.
Instead, these countries have made producers jointly responsible for the recycling of their products, with the effect that the incentive for them to improve their designs has been diminished, according to the joint statement.
Individual producer responsibility is seen as an important means of encouraging competition between companies and, in turn, developing innovations that will reduce the environmental impact of products at the end of their life-time. This is because Article 8.2 allows producers to benefit from lower costs if they design products that are easier to recycle.
However, under the joint-responsibility system, producers act collectively to dispose of their electrical products for recycling, meaning that companies cannot be responsible for their own individual branded product. This has raised the concern that because producers acting under joint responsibility will not be collecting equipment they placed on the market in the first place, there will be no incentive to make their products easy to recycle.
At the same time, larger companies that do want to make products that can be recycled easily fear that the benefits of their environmentally friendly products will be enjoyed by rivals who have not implemented similar policies.