WEEE recast signals higher recovery push for e-waste

Higher collection targets for e-waste have been introduced today across Europe as part of a forthcoming recast of the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) Directive.

New laws will require member states to collect 45% of EEE sold from 2016, rising to 65% in 2019 or 85% of e-waste generated – depending on how individual countries wish to measure their target.

From 2018, the directive will be extended from its current restricted scope to all categories of electronic waste, subject to an impact assessment beforehand.

Exporters will be required also to test whether equipment works or not, and provide documents on the nature of shipments that could potentially be illegitimate, in a bid to clamp down on illegal exporting.

According to Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the recast will be a major boost to Europe in terms of environmental protection and resource efficiency.

“In these times of economic turmoil and rising prices for raw materials, resource efficiency is where environmental benefits and innovative growth opportunities come together,” he said.

“We now need to open new collection channels for electronic waste and improve the effectiveness of existing ones.”

Another expected improvement will be the reduction of administrative burdens through harmonisation of national registration and reporting requirements. Requirements by member states’ registers for producers of e-waste will now be aligned more closely.

Currently only one third of EEE in the EU is separately collected within the documented system. The existing EU collection target is 4kg of WEEE per capita, representing about 2m tonnes per year, out of some 10m tonnes generated annually. By 2020, it is estimated that the volume of WEEE will increase to 12m tonnes.

Some member states will be able to derogate from the new targets for a limited time, where this is justified – for example, a lack of necessary infrastructure or low levels of consumption of electronic equipment.

Maxine Perella

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