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Gaps in WEEE Directive laid bare

The introduction of a national or European Union register to hold all organisations handling waste electrical and electronic equipment in the EU will help Member States to capture more WEEE tonnages, according to an industry expert.

Speaking to MRW, WEEE compliance scheme Ireland European Recycling Platform general manager Martin Tobin said: All organisations handling WEEE should be registered and held accountable. All players should be registered on a national or EU register which holds basic information about them.

We are not foolish enough to think it will not be challenging.

His comments come amid the publication of a pan European study conducted by ERP entitled A better WEEE Directive to support a sustainable European resource management (11 August).
The report claims that the WEEE Directive has succeeded in making the producer responsible and diverting waste from landfill. But it states that the WEEE Directive has failed to get a grip on all WEEE streams, assure prevention of bad treatment and illegal exports.

The report highlights how 70 per cent of valuable WEEE, which includes IT equipment and large domestic appliances such as washing machines, are not accounted for or reported under the WEEE Directive and are worth €400-€600 million. Tobin said it is not known where this stream disappears to. On the other hand, 30 per cent of small electrical waste is given to producer compliance schemes.

Tobin said that the valuable WEEE stream is managed without control, audits and permits outside the control of the Directive. He explained that a national register scheme will harmonise all the organisations involved in WEEE, such as retailers, recycling companies, scrap dealers and scrap brokers to capture some of the missing valuable WEEE stream.

Tobin added: This will contribute to greater control of the waste and it could contribute to the overall WEEE volume in the EU.

The report also raises concerns about the significant amount of WEEE exported outside the EU, despite Europe having sufficient capacity to treat and manage this stream.

As well as lobbying the European Commission to ensure that all companies handling WEEE should be registered, ERP will also campaign for a principle ban on exports outside of the EU.

The WEEE Directive was set up in 2005 and celebrates its fourth anniversary this month. In 2008, Ireland collected 9.10kg of WEEE per head of population, double the EU target of 4kg head. ERP is one of two WEEE PCSs operating in Ireland and has schemes in 10 other countries across the EU.

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