We reported earlier in the year that the European Parliament had voted for tougher e-waste rules as part of a revision of the waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) legislation. But it had to go before the European Council for their agreement.
The European Parliament had proposed a 2012 target for Member States to collect 4kg of e-waste per inhabitant (the existing level) or the same weight as in 2010, whichever is greater. But by 2016 the figure would go up to 85% of the e-waste they produce.
The Council disagrees. In its first consideration of the changes on Monday of this week it concluded that member states must
annually collect 45% of the average weight of electrical and electronic equipment placed on their national markets. This would take effect four years after the law was revised, i.e. in 2016. Four years later the figure would go up to 65%. Some EU states where consumers use fewer electronic devices may have more flexibility in achieving the targets.
The Council also widened the scope of the law to cover, in principle, all electric and electronic equipment six years after the revised law comes into effect. Photovoltaic panels will be included immediately.
The next stage is for the Parliament and Council to negotiate an agreement they can both live with. That should happen later in the year.
At least some agreement on new WEEE requirements is now on the cards, although exactly what remains to be seen. The Council is rightly being accused of watering down the proposals, but there is a way to go yet before it’s settled. It seems to me that 65% of e-waste collection by 2016 and 85% by 2020 might work as a compromise.
But there was nothing in the Council’s published decision about policing the requirement for safe disposal of e-waste. The European Parliament supported the original Commission’s proposals for stricter inspections of shipments of e-waste declared as ‘reusable’ and exported. It held the view that the exporter should carry the burden of proof that goods are reusable. It’s not clear what the European Council’s view is.