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European Council chooses “tepid” WEEE collection target

Proposals to introduce 85% collection targets in the revised Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive appear to have softened following a consideration of the European Parliament’s decision by the Council of the EU.

The European Parliament voted in February 2011 to increase WEEE collection targets to 85% of e-waste produced by 2016, however a Council consideration of the decision has “foreseen” a collection rate of 45% of annual WEEE weight put onto the market in the member state four years after the legislation arrives, and rising to 65% four years afterwards.

The Council view, also known as a “first-reading position” agreed to broadening the scope of the legislation to cover all EEE, including photovoltaic panels, which must be collected separately.

The “softly-softly approach” to reduced WEEE collection targets has been criticised by UK charity Computer Aid environmental advocacy officer Haley Bowcock, she said: “While it is good to see that the Council agreed that the directive should cover all appliances and force the collection and recovery of more WEEE, we are dismayed that the Council has chosen a much more tepid collection target.

“The Council’s decision means that only 45% of EEE put on market from four years after the new Directive comes into force will need to be collected, compared to 85% WEEE arising proposed by the European Parliament. This will leave 55% of e-waste unaccounted for which will continue to get sent to landfill or to other substandard treatment routes.”

The consideration of the legislation was attended by both Defra secretary Caroline Spelman and Energy secretary Chris Huhne.

A Defra spokesperson said: “This agreement is an important step on the road towards agreeing a new Europe-wide Directive by next year.  Member States have agreed to tougher recycling targets of electrical and electronic equipment, while at the same time reducing red tape for business.” 

The second stage of negotiations for the final WEEE Directive, which will seek agreement with the European Parliament, will be held under the Polish Presidency of the EU in the second half of 2011.

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