After the European Parliament last month called for an ambitious 85% e-waste collection target, EU environment ministers this week backed European Commission proposals for a 65% quota and postponed its implementation by four years.
Meeting in Brussels on 14 March, EU environment ministers reached a political agreement on the recast of an EU directive on Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), proposed by the Commission in 2008.
The EU executive's original proposal suggested, for 2016, a collection target of 65% of the average weight of e-waste placed on the market in the preceding year. But member states could not agree on the quota proposed for 2016 and the way to regulate possible exceptions.
Instead, they agreed on a Hungarian EU Presidency compromise proposal of allowing a transition period before the 65% quota becomes obligatory. Instead of 65%, the collection target should be 45% for 2016 and the 65% target would only have to be achieved eight years after the entry into force of the recast, presumably by 2020. Several member states would be given a further two years due to "specific national circumstances".
EU lawmakers last month voted for a collection target of 85% of all electronic waste generated as from 2016.
Scope of the directive
Ministers backed the European Parliament’s call to broaden the reach of EU e-waste law by bringing all types of electrical and electronic equipment under the scope of the rules (unless explicitly excluded), instead of applying the current restricted list of equipment concerned. However, they agreed that the scope should not be widened until six years after the entry into force of the recast, meaning around 2018.
The Commission has not proposed an open scope, as no proper impact study on the implications for businesses and the environment of taking such a step has yet been conducted.
Registration of producers
As for the registration of electronic equipment manufacturers, the Commission has proposed to establish a definition of producers at European level. It has also proposed to harmonise registration and reporting obligations for producers to allow them only to register and report in one member state for all their activities in the EU.
The European Parliament backed this approach, but the environment ministers would prefer to see different national approaches to defining producers, as well as separate national registers.
The dossier will now go back to the European Parliament for a second reading.