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WEEE directive may change before it has began in most countries

The European Commission has already started reviewing the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, whose provisions are only now bedding in.

Facing complaints from recyclers, businesses and local authorities about the laws complexities and the contrasting ways it has been implemented in the European Unions (EU) 25 member states, Brussels is reassessing its terms.

A Commission note said the review would examine the possibilities to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the directive in achieving its environmental goals and to eliminate any unnecessary costs to business, consumers, NGOs and public authorities.

In particular, the review will consider new collection targets for quantities of electrical and electronic waste and for its recovery, reuse and recycling, which could be agreed by December 2008.

These could cover all categories of equipment covered by WEEE, from lighting equipment and toys to computers and medical devices.

However, the review will also consider expanding the scope of the directive to previously excluded waste types, such as military equipment, large scale stationary industrial tools, and implanted or infected medical electronic devices.

Stakeholders are free to suggest additional options for changes, said the note.
The review will also consider whether the responsibilities the directive has forced onto manufacturers in terms of collecting waste are appropriate.

Issues that will be covered include national producer registers, labelling requirements, interactions between the varying approaches of member states, and others.

And the review will consider whether the directives requirements on treating waste can be reformed to further reduce the potential environmental health problems caused by electronic and electrical waste.

This could include proposing a requirement to use certain technologies, and developing rules on the required output of treatment processes.
Comments must be made by August 11. Any proposed changes to the directive must be agreed by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers.


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