The European Commission has recently been looking at how they can help boost the amount of electronic waste which is reused. Their main proposal is to broaden the targets for WEEE disposal to put much more emphasis on reusing it in any way possible.
A review is underway in Brussels with the commission saying it will seek feedback and information from businesses and organisations in the sector. Maria Banti, from the EC’s Waste Management Unit, told delegates at the recent Bureau of International Recycling convention in Paris that contractors are set to carry out a study.
Researchers include the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability. Banti claims there are three tasks which the review will look at:
- To re-examine ‘recovery’ targets
- To assess the possibility of setting separate targets for WEEE to be prepared for reuse
- To re-examine calculation methods
The idea for such a review did not come from out of the blue, it was in fact a possibility which was set out in the 2012 WEEE directive which said, “On the basis of a report of the commission…, the European Parliament and the council shall, by 14 August 2016, re-examine the recovery targets referred to in Annex V, Part 3, examine the possibility of setting separate targets for WEEE to be prepared for reuse and re-examine the calculation method.”
Currently WEEE disposal and reuse targets are calculated within each product category, by dividing the weight of the WEEE waste which enters each facility, after proper treatment, by the weight of all separately collected WEEE for each category, which is expressed as a percentage. Existing targets for WEEE require a minimum collection target of 45% for products placed on the market from 2016 and then 65% from 2019.
It is argued that currently there is not enough incentive for companies to deal with WEEE waste because the system for meeting targets is dysfunctional. Currently it is very difficult to manage WEEE disposal and reuse because much of it is sent overseas where there is not enough evidence provided to make an accurate picture of how much has been recycled.
Hopefully new changes to the WEEE system will help encourage other companies to start using WEEE parts and components for reuse and keep the directive on track, as it is expected to be one of the most important areas of waste and recycling over the coming years as our appetite for new technology continues.
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