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EU tightens WEEE

Europarl vote on recycling better than expected

The European Parliament yesterday announced it is determined to ban all consumers from throwing away any electrical goods and make individual producers responsible for the cost of recycling.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, WEEE, has been kicking about for some time but many companies are still unsure of their obligations.

"Parliament wants to tighten up the draft directive and provide producers and individuals with specific responsibilities, so that individuals cannot lay the responsibility at someone else's feet," said a Parliamentary spokeswoman.

On Tuesday the EP passed a set of amendments to the draft WEEE directive, requiring that the earlier demand that a compulsory average collection target of 6kg of electro-scrap per inhabitant per year, from private households, is achieved by December 2005.

The Council of the European Union, which sets legislation in conjunction with the EP, had originally set a voluntary rather than compulsory target of 4 kg a year to be achieved within a vaguer 36 months.

The EP also voted to ban the use of clever chip devices in inkjet printers, which they felt went against the spirit of the directive [see our previous story].

"We are very happy with the result," said a spokesman for Diana Wallis MEP, who was dead set against the chips, "and we are glad that Parliament has tightened up producers' obligations."

Producers will also be required to produce up-front guarantees for the financing of the future disposal of their products.

Finally a rather controversial addition demands that producers bare the cost of historical waste — waste already on the market before the directive comes into force.

While the Council wants costs to be dispersed proportionally between producers, Parliament has instead voted that the cost is to be shared between producers according to their power in the market.

Other amendments concerned the provisions for providing information to users on the new rules and stipulations for products to be clearly marked to show they must not be simply thrown away.

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