To see stakeholders' reactions to the proposed recast, see the 'Positions' sections of EURACTIV 04/12/08, 30/01/09, 16/10/09 and 23/10/09.
The tight deadline for implementation of WEEE alarmed business organisations, leading to delays in transposition in some countries. Commenting on a UK government decision to postpone the implementation of WEEE, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said: "This sorry saga is, regrettably, yet another example of hurried, last minute implementation of major European environmental directives."
"The time gained must now be used to get proper clarity in the regulations, and to ensure that all parties - manufacturers, retailers, the Environment Agency and local authorities - have sufficient notice of them to prepare," said John Cridland, CBI Deputy Director-General. "Business and the environment deserve better," he added.
Much, although not all, of the European electrical industry has been highly critical of the directive. Criticisms have included unrealistic recycling targets, an unfair retroactive element, punitive financial costs due to the take-back schemes and investments in technology, and the questionable need to include a heavy metal ban in a waste directive.
CECED, which represents the European industry of household appliances, urges prudent implementation of 'electro-scrap' rules. It underlines the huge responsibility that the legislation imposes on producers. The domestic appliance industry will be the most affected by the new rules as it represents about half of all electrical and electronic equipment in use today and set to be the waste of tomorrow. The added costs will result in higher prices for consumers. However, manufacturers unanimously recognise that the final package has struck a balance between promoting better environmental protection and putting in place workable mechanisms for dealing with the waste problem.
The US electronics industry has also voiced criticisms of the WEEE Directive. They question whether any valid environmental analysis underpins the directive and argue that the replacement of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium (now part of RoHS) could force manufacturers to adopt substitutes that have a worse environmental impact. In addition, the American Electronics Association's (AEA) claims that it is unfair on US companies, as well as against WTO rules, and could therefore lead to further US-EU trade disputes.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) expressed its satisfaction that producers now can be held responsible on an individual basis. EEB's Secretary General John Hontelez said: "Making companies consider the end of life implications of the design of their products at the time they place the products on the market in the future is a strong driver for eco-design in electrical and electronic equipment. Now we call on the member states to take full advantage of this opportunity to work towards the long-term goal of prevention of waste from EEE." EEB was disappointed with the reduction of the collection targets.