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WEEE Directive revision: Policy makers decide but important loophole remains

Date

12 Jan 2012

Sections

Climate & Environment

 Opportunity to improve Europe’s environment and improve its resource efficiency is wasted

 Failure to correct Article 11.1 means two-thirds of WEEE falls outside Directive’s recycling requirement

 Escaping WEEE problem will worsen as value of e-waste increases

During the Trilogue which took place on 20th December, European Union policy makers came to an agreement on how to take the revision of Europe’s WEEE Directive forward towards a second reading agreement. Regretfully the agreement fails to deal with a key issue: the large share of WEEE handled by operators not contracted by producers.

Says Luigi Meli, CECED Director General: “The decision to side-step the issue of what happens to WEEE handled by other operators is very disappointing. By failing to correct article 11.1 of the WEEE revision, policy makers have chosen to discard the fact that in today’s Europe WEEE is handled by many other operators that are not producers nor working on their behalf. Under this agreement, e-waste handled by these other operators will continue to fall outside the recycling requirements that e-waste treatment by producers have to meet.”

“Policy makers have acknowledged that this is an issue during the revision process so it’s surprising that they have done little to tackle it in this agreement”.

Europe’s e-waste problem: why it will get worse

The failure to ensure all WEEE is covered by the directive’s treatment and recycling requirements means that Europe’s WEEE problem is set to get worse. The revised legislation will allow de facto cherry-picking. Materials such as copper, steel and aluminium can all be extracted from many discarded appliances. The problem will be worsened as prices rise along with demand for raw materials. Since scarce resources, such as rare earth metals, are more difficult to extract unless the WEEE is treated correctly, these will now be lost as waste. Meanwhile it is unclear what will happen to other materials that have little or no commercial value.

Continues Luigi Meli: “More e-waste could have been properly recycled with an approach that laid out requirements to cover all WEEE. This would have contributed to a reduction in environmental pollution and improved resource efficiency in Europe. The opportunity has been missed.”

Our industry successfully treats an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of WEEE each year. It will continue to treat all WEEE that is handed to it. It will continue to respect strong treatment and recycling requirements as laid out by the Directive. We urge policy makers to take another look at Europe’s fastest growing waste stream and accept that in addition to producers other operators that are not contracted by producers and who handle WEEE should be obligated to respect the same standards”.

Elsewhere CECED is disappointed that policy makers have opted for a progressively increasing collection target (45% after four years to 65% after seven years) based on EEE placed on the market rather than a collection rate calculated according to WEEE that is actually generated. The WEEE generated concept is only mentioned in the agreement as a possible alternative seven years after the year of entry into force of the Directive in the agreement. Responsibility for collection targets have also not been placed with the one entity that could ensure enforcement: member states.

For further information please contact:

Mrs Korrina Hegarty, CECED Government Affairs Manager

Tel: +32 (0)474 920 429

Email: korrina.hegarty@ceced.eu

Mr Tristan Macdonald, Communications Manager

Tel: +32 (0)2 738 78 19

Email: tristan.macdonald@ceced.eu

About CECED: CECED represents the household appliance manufacturing industry in Europe. Its member companies are mainly based in Europe. Direct Members are Arçelik, Ariston Thermo Group, BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH, Candy Group, De’Longhi, Daikin, AB Electrolux, Fagor Group, Gorenje, Liebherr, LG Electronics, Indesit Company, Miele, Philips, SEB and Whirlpool Europe. CECED’s member associations cover the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

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