NGOs call for stricter rules on electronic waste

In the run-up to the second reading in the Parliament of the electronic waste directive, environmental NGOs are asking MEPs to tighten up the common position of the Council.

TheEuropean Environmental Bureau (EEB)believes that the common position agreed by the Council will weaken the directives and it has called on the Parliament to propose stronger measures in its second reading (see alsoEURACTIV 8 June 2001). The EEB demands that:

  • higher and compulsory targets are set for collection and recycling;
  • producers should be individually responsible for collection and recycling;
  • historical waste should be proportionally shared among producers;
  • a ban should be installed on consumers disposing of WEEE in household waste;
  • the proposed exemption for SMEs for the first five years should be abolished.

Concerning the ROHS directive the EEB urges the Parliament to:

  • request that a ban on dangerous substances come into force in 2006 (not 2007 as in the common position, or 2008 as in the Commission’s proposal)
  • reintroduce an explicit statement that it is the EU’s intention to increase the number of banned or restricted substances;
  • require that the addition of new hazardous substances should be made possible through the Comitology procedure, and not by revising the whole directive.

 

The draft directive on waste 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. Under this new legislation, consumers will have the possibility to return used electrical and electronic equipment (computers, televisions, fridges, washing machines, etc.) to producers for disposal free of charge. The new legislation also aims to stimulate manufacturers to introduce more environmentally-friendly designs for their products.

One of the main elements of the WEEE directive is the intention to increase manufacturers' responsibility to collect and recycle electroscrap. The ROHS directive imposes a ban on the use of toxic substances like lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and flame retardants PBB and PBDE in new electroproducts.

 

The Parliament will commence its second reading procedure with a debate in the environment committee, where a vote is expected in March. Thereafter, the plenary will probably vote in April 2002. The rapporteur isKarl-Heinz Florenz(EPP/ED Group). The two directives should come into effect in 2004.

 

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