Parliament clears way for tougher electroscrap legislation

European Parliament adopts in first reading several amendments to Commission proposals dealing with electrical and electronic waste

The Parliament adopted the following main amendments to the Commission proposals:
– on the WEEE Directive:

  • A target of 6 kg per head per year to be collected separately (Commission proposed 4 kg)
  • Disposal of products in existence before the entry into force of the directive (“historical waste”) should be financed collectively by all producers in proportion to their share of the market. Producers will be allowed to label the costs for the disposal of historic products for 10 years (visible fee).
  • System for the collection of WEEE and financing to be set up within 30 months of the entry into force of the directive (Commission proposed 5 years)
  • Tougher recovery targets by 2005 for large household appliances such as washing machines or fridges
  • Change in categories covered: leisure and sports equipment added to toys category. Lighting equipment removed from the directive’s scope.

– On the ROHS Directive:

  • Ban on dangerous substances to come into force not in 2008 but in 2006.
  • Review of the directive by 2003. Commission to come forward with proposals for substituting brominated flame retardants.
  • Penalties if the provisions of the directive are breached

 

Several producers of electrical and electronic equipment are opposed to the new rules and warned of the financial impacts of the measures on the sector. The European Association of Consumer Electronics Manufacturers (EACEM) and Orgalime, the Liaison Group of the European Mechanical, Electrical, Electronic and Metalworking Industries stated their satisfaction with the fact that the parliament refused to merge the two proposals on the basis of article 175 of the Treaty. However, both organisations criticised heavily that the Parliament wants producers to pay for collection of waste appliances from private households, rather than from central collection points as foreseen in the Commission proposal.

Swedish manufacturer Electrolux welcomed the Parliament's resolution and called upon the Council to endorse the issue of individual producer responsibility for these waste streams.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) expressed its satisfaction with the Parliament's strong stance on the issue. "Individual responsibility may eventually promote prevention and eco-design", said Elena Lymberidi, EEB Ecological Product Policy Coordinator. The EEB regrets however that the Parliament adopted only a cautious approach on the phase-out of hazardous substances and did not include some halogenated flame-retardants in the list of substances to be phased-out.

 

The European Parliament adopted in its first reading several amendments to two Commission proposals dealing with waste from electrical and electronic equipment. Under the 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 should also stimulate manufacturers to introduce more environmentally-friendly designs for their products.

 

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.

The WEEE directive aims to increase the collection and recycling of electroscrap through producer responsibility. 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.

 

Member States will try to reach a common position on the two directives at the Environment Council of 7-8 June. The Parliament is expected to undertake its second reading of these proposa ls at the beginning of next year. The two directives should then come into effect in 2004.

 

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