It has been reported recently that a new percentage-based WEEE proposal that would be part of the WEEE Directive recast – and much tougher than the current system will be opposed. The MEP that is responsible for getting it through EU Parliament has gone against it.
The European Environment ministers’ proposals through the European Council were this month turned down in a draft report published by German Karl-Heinz Florenz. Ministers who were proposing a staged move from a weight – to percentage-based targets included Defra secretary of state Caroline Spelman. The new system would have started with a 45% collection target over four years when the WEEE Directive recast is complete; this would then increase to 65% after six years.
Instead the draft report by Mr Florenz is favouring the immediate introduction of an 85% collection target by 2016, which is the Parliament’s position for the recast process on the second reading. This same target, calculated as a percentage of total WEEE was endorsed by the Parliament in February this year.
“It is necessary to set an ambitious collection target, to oblige all actors that collect WEEE to ensure it is treated in an environmentally sound way, and to require such actors to report the volumes collected, handled and treated.” Mr Florenz states in the draft report.
This would require UK operators to increase the total amount of WEEE that is collected. The way in which the total is calculated will have a material effect on how difficult this will be to achieve.
Outside of the formal WEEE system there is already a considerable tonnage of waste electronic equipment being collected, especially in the commercial sector. Mr Florenz has stated in the report that EU member states need to get a full picture of the actual WEEE generated and collected in various ways.
However the European Commission could wait until the end of 2012 before agreeing an exact methodology on the calculations of total WEEE generated, and hence how much of this will be recycled.
Differences in Opinion
Mr Florenz’s difference of opinion on the targets for collection is one of number issues with the European Council’s March 2011 first reading position on the recast; he has instead reverted to the 2010 position of the Parliament.
Under the European legislative process which is known as: co-decision, the Parliament will consider the recast before the Council at the second reading and this will possibly lead to a long-drawn-out negation.
A main point is that Mr Florenz would prefer an ‘open’ scope as opposed to the Council’s advocacy for retaining categories of EEE and WEEE.
In Mr Florenz’s draft report he states: “The ‘open’ scope results in greater legal certainty – a major aim in revising the directive – since all EEE is included as a matter of principle. The strict categorization of equipment led to widely differing interpretations in the Member States, which should be avoided. New products can also thereby be taken into account, obviating the need for further revision of the directive to include them in the scope.”
Some of the other main proposals that have been made in the report include:
– Introducing a separate 5% reuse target for all WEEE, in light of the legally-binding waste hierarchy;
– Moving towards more ‘harmonised’ Europe-wide registration and reporting requirements for producers;
– Targeting illegal exports of WEEE by emphasising the importance of member states supervising all exports of used EEE;
The requirement of producers to fund the collection of WEEE from households directly is not an explicit requirement from Mr Florenz in the report. However this was advocated by the UK Local Government Association which was endorsed by the European Parliament in June 2010 (see letsrecycle.com story).
He does state in the report that producers should “finance collection from collection facilities, and the treatment, recovery and disposal of WEEE”.
And he reiterates the significance of the principle that the ‘polluter pays’ and goes on to say: “Each producer should be responsible for financing the management of the waste from his own products. The producer should be able to choose to fulfil this obligation either individually or by joining a collective scheme.”
European Parliament – WEEE Directive Recast
Mr Florenz’s second reading report is scheduled to be discussed and adopted by the European Parliament’s environment committee on October 4, before being voted on by a full plenary of the Parliament on January 16 2012.
The European Council will then have its second reading discussions before the two parties attempt to finalise the final recast text.