New electronic waste law to come into force
12.08.05 @ 09:26
BRUSSELS - Rules coming into force on Saturday (13 August) mean customers will be able to hand in their old electronic goods when buying new devices at shops throughout the EU.
Under the new law, known as the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) directive, manufacturers will have to finance the recycling of waste electrical and electronic products.
Retailers will have to offer customers a collection facility. The target is to recycle up to 80% of large household items and up to 75% of IT equipment.
The new law will cover small and large household appliances as well as radios, TVs and hi-fi systems.
Many of the common components of these goods contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium, which are all damaging to human health.
At the moment, more than 90% of electronic waste is landfilled, incinerated or recovered without any pre-treatment meaning that these pollutants are being released into the environment.
From Saturday, all products put on the market are supposed to carry a label indicating that they cannot be thrown away and must be brought to one of the waste collection sites set up under the directive.
Electronic waste is the fasting growing waste stream in the EU, with each citizen in the 25-nation bloc generating an estimated 17 to 20kg of waste each year.
But several member states have been slow to put the directive into place, as governments continue to negotiate with industry over the costs.
In the UK, for example, the date has been pushed back to June 2006 to allow a system for collecting and disposing of waste to be put in place.
France, Malta and Poland are also not ready to put the directive in place, while Estonia, Finland, Greece, Italy and Slovenia have only just announced waste disposal measures.