WEEE 5% reuse target is ‘pathetic’ says industry chief

A leading IT expert has slammed the EU's proposed 5% reuse target for waste electrical and electronic equipment as "pathetic", arguing that it will do little to curb the environmental impact of e-waste.

Askar Sheibani, CEO of IT solutions provider Comtek, has said that recent proposals for the WEEE Directive, which is currently undergoing a recast at EU level, have not been properly thought through.

He said: “The EU is proposing ambitious targets that make impressive headlines, but would do little to actually solve the growing problem of e-waste if enacted. While a minimum of 70% of the collected e-waste would be recycled, the target for reusing unwanted equipment is pathetic by comparison at a miniscule 5%.

“It’s as if reuse is an afterthought, and if the proposal is passed it will send a clear message to consumers that reuse is not nearly as important as recycling. We should not be encouraging people to recycle electronics goods as a first option.”

Sheibani claimed that another weakness of the proposals is its plan for consumers to return unwanted equipment to retailers, arguing that it was “simply not practical for consumers or retailers to comply with these” – particularly as many products are now purchased online or from overseas sellers.

He added: “Retailers would just end up having to ship unwanted gear between branches or distribution centres, which would be costly and complicated to administer.

“It would make much more sense to cut out the middle-man completely and send equipment directly to organisations that already accept electronic goods for reuse and recycling, without making a charge to the consumer.”

Maxine Perella

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