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WEEE schemes warn EU targets ‘extremely challenging’

Weee raw materials

WEEE compliance schemes have warned that EU member states may struggle to meet a target to collect 65% of electrical equipment placed on the market.

A conference held by the WEEE Forum, a coalition of 31 producer compliance schemes, heard that unless there was greater co-operation and regulation in the sector, targets under the WEEE directive would be unattainable.

Jan Vlak, president of the WEEE Forum, said: “The 2019 collection target of 65% of equipment sold, or 85% of WEEE generated, will be extremely challenging for almost all member states, unless we encourage co-operation among stakeholders, count all WEEE and improve law enforcement.”

Philip Morton, WEEE Forum vice president and former chief executive of Repic, said: “Producers accept they need to finance end-of-life costs, but they must have authority to manage and control the cost.

“Legislation needs to ensure producers’ cost responsibility is clear and they have the legal right to approve collection points, collectors and recyclers of WEEE.”

Pascal Leroy, WEEE Forum secretary general, added that the EN 50625 standard on collection needed to be taken up by all EU members. It has so far been adopted by the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Lithuania and France.

EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella, who spoke at the conference, said: “WEEE provides a prime example of why recycling efforts pay off; and it pays off for the environment, it pays off for industry, and it pays off in jobs.

“This industry is a prime example of why we need to move from waste management to resource management, and why we have to find circular solutions.”

In April, the European Commission adopted a common set of calculation tools to help member states report on their WEEE collection rates.

The commission said: “It will help standardise the treatment and recycling of materials like gold, silver, copper and rare metals in used TVs, laptops and mobile phones.”

Vella added: “More than one million tonnes of plastic waste generated in the EU in 2014 came from WEEE. Recycling of this plastic waste is very low, only 19%. We have to increase that average – to limit the potential environmental and health risk of hazardous substances in electronics.”

In March, the Environmental Services Association was disappointed when Defra rejected calls for higher UK WEEE collection targets and, in some categories, opted for lower increases than originally proposed.

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