Most member states of the European Union will not reach the 2019 WEEE collection targets, according to the WEEE Forum, as it calls for an ‘all actors approach’.
In a report released yesterday (24 November), investigating the reasons why the targets are seemingly difficult to attain, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) notes that there is a ‘huge amount’ of collected WEEE Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) that is not reported.
The WEEE Forum says it goes on to assert that all actors that can influence collection rates should hold responsibility and not just the Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) and the manufacturers they represent.
Furthermore, a vision paper based on UNITAR’s research and produced by the WEEE Forum, outlines the ‘fundamentals of a new policy approach’ it believes is needed to increase reported collection of WEEE.
Considering almost two decades of implementation of WEEE legislation and the changing nature of electrical and electronic equipment coming onto the market, this assessment will ensure that the approach to WEEE is brought up to date and is more effective now and in the future
In 2002, EU legislation entered into force that was designed to foster environmentally sound management of electronic waste.
It made EU member states responsible for reaching WEEE collection targets while producers of electronics were required to finance the management of the WEEE deposited at collection facilities.
Ten years later, the Directive was recast requiring that from 2019, the minimum collection rate to be achieved annually is 65% of the average weight of electricals placed on the market in the three preceding years, or alternatively 85% of WEEE generated.
The WEEE Forum says ‘enormous’ progress has been made during this time in tackling the challenge. For example, 48 million tonnes of WEEE were reported as collected in the EU between 2005 and 2018.
However, after so many years of concerted effort, most member states have not attained the 2019 collection targets, it says.
Producers and PROs, and other actors in the value chain, have made ‘huge efforts’, it says, in ‘better understanding’ why reaching the increased collection targets is so difficult and where the undocumented WEEE is going.
It says too much e-waste is currently disposed of in the general waste bin, mixed with metal scrap, illegally exported, and ‘handled irresponsibly’.
All Actors Approach
Says Kees Baldé, chief author of the report: “One of the key principles of WEEE legislation must be that all actors that can influence collection rates should hold responsibility, cooperate and get their access to the WEEE that is generated. We call this the ‘All Actors Approach’”.
Building on this research, the WEEE Forum proposes in its vision paper, “An enhanced definition of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and the role of all actors” that for the reported, official tonnages to go up, member states should introduce a range of supporting measures that act as a catalyst to improvement.
It follows this, however, by noting that these supporting measures are not a guarantee for attaining collection targets and there are number of fundamentals that need to be included in a new policy approach.
Pascal Leroy, Director General of the WEEE Forum, states: “Based on the UNITAR research and the collective experience of the PROs in the WEEE Forum, we assert that a constructive assessment into how fit for purpose the collection targets are is now required.
“Considering almost two decades of implementation of WEEE legislation and the changing nature of electrical and electronic equipment coming onto the market, this assessment will ensure that the approach to WEEE is brought up to date and is more effective now and in the future.
“This rings true for any country which currently has or is planning to introduce extended producer responsibility in the sector and our recommendations are equally applicable outside the EU.”