The Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive

The EU council yesterday introduced reforms to the Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive which will improve electronic device collection and recycling and reduce illegal e-waste exports.

Caroline Spelman, Chris Huhne and other EU council environment ministers yesterday set our plans for the WEEE revamp legislation requiring member States to work towards collection targets.

Council proposed countries should collect 45% of the average weight of electrical and electronic equipment in their national market by 2016 rising to 65% by 2020. Countries like Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republics will be required to collect 40-45% by 2016 and 65% by 2022.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) has critised the council for downgrading previous targets proposed by the European Parliament and European Commission. In 2008 the commission had proposed that member states should collect 65% of the average weight of e-waste from 2016.  In February the European Parliament had voted to raise this to 85%.

The European Parliament had also made numerous proposals aimed at assisting business and countries in keeping e-waste down. The lower targets proposed by the council could that mean that member states will not address the risks of illegal export and improper e-waste treatment warned Stephane Arditi, EEB Waste Policy Officer who has also criticized the council for putting aside parliament’s proposals to help businesses.

The ever growing waste problem cannot be buried and ignored.   This is a long way from the efficient society we aim to be.  The council is sticking to an outdated approach rather that viewing as a recycling opportunity.  Not only do we need to ensure that e-waste is properly managed but stop it by building re-usable innovative products which are easily recycled.

The agreement supports the chance of the EU of setting a new directive by next year.  Member states have agreed to stricter targets and at the same time reducing red tape to business.

Council and Parliament are due to meet later in the year to draw up an agreement. The EEB did welcome the revised EU Mercury strategy, when environmental ministers pledge further steps in limiting and phasing out of mercury emissions.