Plans for \"orphan\" electroscrap spark ire
Electronics makers have slammed a decision by the European Parliament\'s environment committee today to oblige industry, under draft EU electroscrap recycling legislation, to shoulder collectively the treatment costs of untraceable \"orphan\" product waste.
In their first reading of the WEEE directive, EU governments have already pushed for this approach. The committee\'s vote makes it much more likely that the full parliament will also back it at second reading next month (ED 07/06/01). Opponents argue that the clause will actually encourage companies to cheat, creating more orphan waste.
Following the vote, industry lobbyists complained that the clause would encourage more \"free-rider\" companies to ignore their obligations under the law. Even the parliament\'s own rapporteur on the WEEE directive, Karl-Heinz Florenz, had opposed it. He argued that a requirement on all companies to provide financial guarantees for end-of-life equipment should eliminate the orphan waste problem (ED 11/02/02).
While the environment committee supported a requirement for such guarantees, opponents of the orphan waste clause say this will effectively neuter their effectiveness. \"It allows member states to say [they] won\'t police the guarantee,\" an industry source told Environment Daily.
On other issues, the committee backed Mr Florenz\'s insistence that the directive should mandate individual company-by-company financial responsibility for recycling of non-orphan waste. In contrast, environment ministers want to give member states freedom to introduce collective responsibility, following the Dutch model.
Meanwhile, MEPs said all electroscrap should be collected separately from the municipal waste stream. They also voted to raise each country\'s collection target to six kilograms per head per year, and raised recycling targets slightly.
They voted against exempting small and medium-sized businesses from the law, and said waste reuse should have priority. Under the wording adopted, producers would have to design equipment \"so far as practical\" in such a way as \"not to prevent its being reused in whole appliances or in parts.\"
In the sister directive on restricting hazardous substances in electronics manufacture, MEPs brought forward to January 2006 the date for phasing out the use of mercury, lead, cadmium and hexavalent chromium, but said member states should be able to set earlier dates individually if they wished. Further substance bans should be agreed through full co-decision and not through committee procedures, they said.
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