New regulations on the collection and treatment of WEEE across the EU have come into force following adoption of a recast directive.
The WEEE directive introduces a collection target from 2016 of 45% of electronic equipment sold and, from 2019, a target of 65% of equipment sold, or 85% of electronic waste generated. From 2018, the directive will include all categories of electronic waste, subject to an impact assessment.
It will be up to the UK Government to choose which one of the 2019 targets to go for and will have to amend legislation by February 2014.
The existing directive, which has been in force since February 2003, established the principle of collection schemes so that consumers could return used waste free of charge. It is a recast of this directive that has now been adopted by the European Parliament and Council.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “We now need to open new collection channels for electronic waste and improve the effectiveness of existing ones. I encourage the member states to meet these new targets before the formal deadline.”
The recast directive obliges exporters to test whether equipment works or not, and provide documents on the nature of shipments that could otherwise be considered illegal.
By 2020, it is estimated that the volume of WEEE will increase to 12 million tons. The 85% target, if achieved, will ensure that in 2020 around 10 million tons, or roughly 20kg per capita, will be separately collected in the EU.