European Parliament gets tough on electronics recycling

The European Parliament (EP) looks set to impose stricter rules than previously proposed on the disposal of electrical and...

The European Parliament (EP) looks set to impose stricter rules than previously proposed on the disposal of electrical and electronic waste.

The Parliament last week said it wanted to toughen a Council of the European Union draft directive on the disposal of electronic and electrical waste.

The amendments proposed include increasing the amount of electro-scrap to be collected per person in the European Union from 4kg to 6kg per year, and making this amount compulsory.

This collection target must be achieved by 31 December 2005, and member states will be asked to prove that the target has been reached, a statement said. This would be backed by inspection and monitoring.

The move will worry IT directors and UK businesses. The British Chambers of Commerce last year estimated that European anti pollution laws would cost British industry £1.6bn in the next five years.

Manufacturers would also be banned from including so-called "clever chips" in devices like printers. These can be used to prevent recycling of ink cartridges or the use of third-party cartridges.

The MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) voted to compel producers to provide up-front guarantees for the financing of the future disposal of their products so that other manufacturers are not left to pay for the removal of products whose producers have vanished or gone out of business.

"Historical waste," the cost of getting rid of products already on the market, should be split between manufacturers according to their market share by type of equipment, the Parliament proposed, firming up the Council's proposal that costs should be split "proportionally".

Claire Snow, director of Industry Council for Electronic Equipment Recycling (ICER) says that it is not yet clear how much the proposals will cost manufacturers, despite ICER having worked with the EU for eight years.

"It's extremely complex. It's clear that manufacturers will foot the bill, but how much it costs will depend on how it's done." Administration systems, enforcement and data management can be very expensive, depending on how they are set up, she said.

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