WEEE collection/recycle targets to be ramped up

The European Commission has published its proposed revisions to EU legislation on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and that restrict certain hazardous substances (RoHS) in electronics.

The European Commission has proposed a revision of EU legislation on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), which outlines challenging new national collection targets and increased recovery and recycling targets.1 It has also published a revision to the Directive restricting certain hazardous substances in WEEE.2 The recast Directives are little changed from drafts seen by ENDS last month (ENDS Report 406, pp 51-52 ).

The most significant proposed change is to scrap the existing annual national WEEE collection target of 4 kilograms per person, which the Commission says is not ambitious enough for some EU countries and too ambitious for others.

Instead, "producers or third parties acting on their behalf" would have to collect at least 65% of the average weight of WEEE products placed on the market in the two preceding years. The wording of the text suggests that the Commission wants to shift collection responsibilities from governments to manufacturers.

The new collection target would apply from 2016, but member states could apply to the Commission for a time-limited derogation if "specific national circumstances" mean they would have difficulties in achieving it.

The Commission also proposes to change the definition of re-use to allow the re-use of whole appliances to count towards targets for recovery and for re-use and recycling.  To accommodate this, all targets would be raised by 5 percentage points by 31 December 2011.

Other changes include a scrapping of the eight-year time limit on "visible fees" and new minimum inspection and monitoring requirements for treatment facilities. Definitions have also been amended to improve clarity.

For RoHS, the Commission has stopped short of changing the list of restricted chemicals. It says that a lack of information on potential substitutes means it is not considered feasible to introduce further bans. But it does want to review four new chemicals for possible inclusion: the brominated flame retardant HBCDD and phthalates DEHP, BBP and DBP. Previous plans to include the flame retardant TBBP A in the shortlist have been dropped.

A mechanism for introducing substance bans in line with the EU’s chemical regime REACH has been proposed. Detailed rules will be developed through comitology. The European Chemicals Agency is likely to be given a role in evaluating substances.

It could mean that substances are banned in a much shorter time-scale than through traditional legislative routes. But there would be a crucial change to exemption criteria that would allow policy makers to lift bans on "socioeconomic" grounds. Exemptions would be limited to four years initially, but could be renewed. The Commission said this would "stimulate substitution efforts". 

Market surveillance is also to be strengthened, alongside new "product conformity assessment requirements". The Commission said that current member state checks reveal that up to 44% of electronics are still not compliant with the existing rules.

The scope of the law has also been extended to cover medical equipment from January 2014 and industrial monitoring and control devices from January 2017. Both proposals will be sent to the Environment Council and the European Parliament next year for discussion and negotiation. 

With the European Parliament elections due in June 2009 and a change of Commissioners in the autumn, the UK government is not expecting adoption of final texts until late 2009 at the earliest. Member states will have 18 months to adopt the text thereafter.

Compliance Search

Discover all ENDS content in one place, including legislation summaries to keep up to date with compliance deadlines

Compliance Deadlines

Plan ahead with our Calendar feature highlighting upcoming compliance deadlines

Most-read articles


Officer 2, Carriers & Brokers

The post holder will protect and enhance the environment by effective and efficient investigation of complex environmental offending with the emphasis on waste carriers and brokers offences.

Senior Officer – Industry & Waste Regulation

Through the Environment (Wales) Act, Natural Resources Wales has a new duty to pursue the sustainable management of natural resources (SMNR). Under the Act, NRW is also required to provide Area Statements that set out the natural resources in an area, the benefits they provide, and the priorities.

Environmental Manager

As the government’s housing accelerator, Homes England is one of the largest landowners in the country.

Strategic Drinking Water Quality Manager

We have an exciting opportunity for you to join our team at our head office in Warrington, you will establish the long term plans to secure water quality for future generations in the North West.

Environment Officer

If you are an organised, conscientious, hardworking individual, who works well as part of a team and is passionate about making a difference for the environment, then we’ve got the job for you!