CECED: Some Progress, Some Missed Opportunity on WEEE
Feb 4, 2011
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Members of the European Parliament held a plenary vote yesterday on the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive and appliance industry association CECED said it saw some progress, but also saw the MEPs miss a central issue.

CECED, the association representing the European appliance manufacturing industry, said the vote on Feb. 3 missed a central issue: the need for revised legislation that covers all waste equipment, and not just the waste equipment that the producers are responsible for. CECED said that about 2/3rds of the waste is not handled by producers and falls outside the treatment requirements of the WEEE Directive.

"If policy makers want to resolve the problems of WEEE then they must ensure that treatment requirements and reporting obligations cover all WEEE, not just the WEEE handled by producers," said Luigi Meli, CECED Director General: “This loophole of the present WEEE legislation is one of the main reasons why so much WEEE slips through the system today."

Meli said that producers receive and treat about 1/3 of the waste equipment, but 2/3 of it is collected by other parties who have no obligations under the current Directive. "Producers have no authority over these actors that collect WEEE for economic reasons to make a profit of its value," Meli said. "Neither can enforcement authorities require that these actors treat WEEE in accordance to the WEEE Directive as these actors are not addressed by the Directive. This problem will increase in the future given the growing scarcity of resources and the resulting increase in material prices."

Meli concluded, "In this context, it is disappointing that amendment 93 (creating conditions for strong enforcement) has not been supported.”

CECED did see some positive movement in the directive. Unlike the original commission proposal, the European Parliament
opted for a collection target based on the amount of WEEE generated. MEPs confirmed to CECED that the Member States will be held to this target, not producers.

MEPs also supported a proposal for financing improvement to the ways the waste equipment is collected from households.

The European Parliament has also proposed targets for the reuse of the waste equipment. CECED stressed that it is essential that quality criteria be developed for the refurbished appliances and for the refurbishers, to ensure that refurbished products will not jeopardize the environment or consumers and to ensure they not become a loophole allowing for illegal export of waste.

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