Although not officially law yet, the voting in of WEEE2 (also known as the WEEE recast) by the European Parliament has already started provoking response from the electronics industry.
Hewlett Packard has released a report on current WEEE processes in the UK. It suggests that since its introduction, the rising price of electronics and electrical items has made WEEE recycling more profitable to WEEE processors but despite this, producers are still paying the same to demonstrate WEEE compliance when this could have been reduced. HP are suggesting that in the UK, the waste electronics market has found “a convenient operating position at the expense of manufacturers and consumers”.
The report places producer payments in 2010 at around £40-50 million. The Head of Environmental Compliance at HP for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Dr Kirstie McIntyre commented, “The WEEE Directive was created as part of the concept of producer responsibility. However, producer responsibility was based on waste being a cost. In this new era when waste has a value, policy should instead focus on ensuring all waste is properly treated and reported, that producers pay for waste where this is a cost, and that effective measures are in place to prevent waste escaping by illegal export.”
“Under current UK regulations producers are not charged the actual costs of recycling. Instead prices are agreed between producers’ compliance schemes and waste management companies acting on behalf of municipalities”
As a directive, WEEE must be transposed into national law by each member state allowing for subtle differences in implementation. In the UK, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has said, “We will need to consult on necessary amendments to the WEEE regulations, and, in doing, use that opportunity to consider other improvements we should make to the UK’s WEEE system that are good for business and continue to drive up recycling rates.”
Only time will tell if other member states will decide to follow suit and what individual interpretations will look like.
Are you an EEE producer? How do you feel about the new WEEE directive? Who should be responsible for paying for the safe disposal of WEEE?
See the HP WEEE page for more information.
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