I reported back in January that the European Parliament and Council had thrashed out an agreement on updating the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) legislation. Well the new and more stringent rules came into force on August 13. Member States now have until February 14 2014 to include the new rules into their national e-waste laws.
Under the new agreement the current national WEEE collection rates of 4Kg per person will remain for four years. For the following three years collection rates will be assessed at 45% of the weight of equipment entering the market. After that (2019), member states can chose a collection target of either 65% of the weight of equipment entering the market or 85% of the weight of waste equipment.
There is also the possibility that from 2018 the rules will be extended to all electronic waste. The excuse that a lot of equipment is too hard to recycle has kept a significant amount out of the legislation, but the EU is looking to extend the coverage.
Review: It’s been a tortuous process getting to this point. Initially the European Parliament wanted national collection targets to be 85% of e-waste produced by 2016. The European Council effectively watered down the proposal by pushing it back to 2019 and now countries can choose to use the European Council’s preferred target of 65% of the weight of equipment placed on the market.
But it is a significant improvement – the EU anticipates five times more e-waste will be collected. It also gives national government’s new powers to make responsible e-waste disposal easier as well as increasing penalties for illegal exporting of waste. The latter point, in particular, has been seen as undermining much of the WEEE legislation.