On 13 August a new EU directive managing the collection and treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) came into force.
E-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams, however, currently only one third of this waste in the European Union is being separately collected, with systematic collection a precondition for recycling materials found in used TVs, laptops and mobile phones.
The new WEEE Directive replaces the current e-waste management directive from 2003 that created collection schemes where consumers return their used e-waste free of charg
In 2008 the European Commission proposed a recast of the 2003 directive in order to tackle the fast increasing waste stream of electronic products in Europe, the volume of which, it is estimated, will by 2020 increase to 12 million tons per year. Currently only about 2 million tons of e-waste per year is separately collected.
The aim of the new e-waste management rules is thus to increase the amount of e-waste that is appropriately treated and to reduce the volume that goes to disposal. The new legislation is to ensure that by 2020 around 10 million tons will be separately collected in the EU.
Pursuant to the new WEEE Directive Member States will from 2016 onwards be required to ensure that 45% of electrical and electronic equipment sold in each country is collected.
From 2018 onwards, the scope of the Directive will be widened from today’s categories to all electrical and electronic equipment.
From 2019 onwards the collection target is to be raised to 65% of electrical and electronic equipment sold or the alternative measure of 85 % of electrical and electronic equipment generated. Member States will be able to choose which one of these two equivalent ways to measure the target they wish to report.
Member States will have to amend their existing legislation on e-waste and align it with the new WEEE Directive by 14 February 2014 at the latest. Some Member States will be able to derogate from the new targets for a limited time, where this is justified by a lack of necessary infrastructure or low levels of consumption of electronic equipment.