LONDON: New rules governing the collection and disposal of electronic waste in the European Union (EU) were today approved – but while welcoming the move, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) warned the regulations would be meaningless without rigorous enforcement.
Under the previous directive in 2003, approximately one-third of EU e-waste was disposed of properly, the remainder going into landfill or being diverted into illegal exports.
The new Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations include more stringent collection targets; currently, 4kg of e-waste has to be collected per citizen but from 2016, 45 tonnes of e-waste must be collected for every 100 tonnes of electronic goods sold during the previous three years, increasing to 65 tonnes in 2019. Member states can alternatively choose to collect 85 per cent of e-waste generated.
Discarded electronic and electrical equipment is the fastest growing waste stream. It is estimated that by 2015, the EU will generate as much as 12 million tonnes of e-waste a year.
The new regulations also include much wider take-back requirements for the retail sector, and exporters will be subjected to more requirements prior to shipping to ensure e-waste is not dumped in developing countries.
“These changes are very welcome but they need to be effectively enforced,” said EIA Campaigns Director Julian Newman, co-author of the 2011 report System Failure, which exposed the illegal underbelly of the e-waste trade in the UK.
“The new targets are more ambitious than those currently in effect. It’s good that the EU has recognised its responsibility to deal with e-waste appropriately and to prevent it being illegally exported to poorer countries where it poses such a serious threat to the environment and to human health.
“It remains up to the EU’s individual member states to have strong penalties in place for illegal e-waste exporters – effective enforcement is the key to dealing with the growing mountain of e-waste we produce.”
Interviews are available on request: please contact EIA Campaigns Director Julian Newman at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 7354 7960.
1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses.
2. Read and download EIA’s System Failure report here.
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