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European Council adopts WEEE Recast

8 June 2012

The Recast of the WEEE Directive has been formally adopted by the European Council of Ministers, its final step before entering EU law.

European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik confirmed that the Council had formally adopted the Recast yesterday, commenting on social networking site Twitter: “Council finally adopted the WEEE recast today – should see 85% of waste electronic equipment recycled in 2020. In EU, 20 kgs per person!”

With the Recast receiving formal approval from the Council of Ministers, the Directive will become law once it enters the Official Journal of the European Communities. Member States will then have 18 months to update their national legislation to comply with the changes.

Janez Potocnik has welcomed the WEEE Recast approvalJanez Potocnik has welcomed the WEEE Recast approval

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is expected to introduce legislation in 2013 to bring the UK in line with the requirements of the Recast, and last week launched a call for evidence about ahead of implementing measures to make the WEEE system less costly for businesses (see story).

The Recast will see Member States subject to new targets for recycling waste electricals above the current target of 4kg per person. As of 2016, 45 tonnes of WEEE will need to be collected for every 100 tonnes put onto the market in the three preceding years. These targets will then rise further in 2019 to a rate of 65 tonnes from every 100 put onto the market.

Widened scope

The Council has widened the scope of the legislation to cover all electric and electronic equipment, such as photovoltaic panels, equipment containing ozone-depleting substances and fluorescent lamps containing mercury. These items will have to be collected separately and properly treated six years after the legislation enters into force.

The Directive will also establish greater producer responsibility, by encouraging design and production of EEE to take repair, upgrading, re-use, disassembly and recycling into full account.

Retailers of electrical items whose shop space covers at least 400m2 will be required to provide facilities for customers to return small WEEE (no more than 25cm) free of charge or show that an alternative system is equally as effective.

Tougher restrictions on the illegal export of WEEE, to prevent waste electricals from being processed in countries where conditions are hazardous to workers and the environment are also set to be introduced. The measures will see exporters made responsible for proving that goods are being shipped abroad for repair or reuse

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