Electroscrap directive split into three

The draft EU legislation on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) has finally been proposed, with Member States expected to collect a minimum of four kilograms of waste per person per year, whilst manufacturers will be expected to pay for 50-80% of waste to be recycled or reused.

There have been some fundamental changes, however, to the structure of the Directive. Proposals to phase out the use of hazardous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and PBB/PBDE flame retardants in new products by 2008 have been removed. Instead, these substances have been placed in a separate draft directive that covers hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.

This division has been influenced by industry groups and the Commissions’ Enterprise and Internal Market Directorates, who are concerned that certain countries will issue one-sided substance bans that could disrupt the internal market. Therefore, any country that wishes to reduce any hazardous substance in electrical and electronic equipment before the deadline will have to justify this measure to the Commission.

Speculation from members of the European Parliament Environmental Committee and industry representatives surrounding the lack of adequate risk assessments and scientific evidence used to justify banning certain hazardous substances, could lead to the delay of the implementation of this directive.

The only other real change to the WEEE directive is the elimination of standards for eco-design. These will now appear in a third WEEE-related draft directive, which is being formulated by the Commission’s DG Enterprise, in conjunction with an EU Integrated Product Policy paper, ready for presentation later this year.

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