Experts recommend EU directive on electronic waste

Experts at a technical workshop in Vienna have recommended a European directive on electronic waste, to help mitigate the increasing environmental impact of dangerous substances in electronic wastes.


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Within a few years the rapid expansion of the Information Technology sector is predicted to lead to a dramatic increase in the release of dangerous substances to the environment.

Despite all political intentions to reduce waste generation by means of cleaner technology, waste from electronic equipment is liable to increase dramatically within few years, noted the participants of the European workshop organised by the European Topic Centre on Waste. In addition, problems related to dangerous substances in this particular waste stream will increase the negative impact on the environment.

In the conclusions from the workshop, the participants focused on the problems related to electronic waste: Increasing waste generation, environmentally damaging substances, lack of legislation, few treatment facilities and inadequate collection schemes.

A number of initiatives which could contribute to solving the problems were recommended. Because of the transboundary nature of the problems, a rapid decision of a separate EU-directive on electronic waste was suggested. A draft directive is currently being considered by the Commission, but has yet to be negotiated with the Member States.

The importance of developing effective economic, legislative and organisational instruments was also recognised, with the participants highlighting taxation as being a very efficient way of influencing the waste management situation. Also, efficient collection schemes for electronic waste from households as well as industry should be established. According to the participants, though, one of the most essential instruments to be applied was producer responsibility.

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