EU passes electrical recycling law, prices to rise
STRASBOURG, France - Europe\'s consumers face higher prices for electrical goods after the European Parliament passed a major new recycling law on Wednesday, household appliance makers said.
CECED, which represents European household appliance makers with annual sales of 35 billion euros ($36.1 billion), said the new rules were balanced but spelled a huge responsibility for manufacturers and a big bill for consumers.
\"The added costs will inevitably filter through to consumers in higher prices,\" CECED said in a statement. A CECED spokesman said prices for large items could rise by \"anything from five to 20 euros\".
Under the law, which applies to all electrical and electronic goods sold in the EU, consumers must be able to return items for recycling free of charge by 2005.
Firms will have to recycle between 50 percent and 75 percent of the products by weight, depending on the product type. This would include plastics and metals recycling.
It is left up to national governments and local authorities to ensure consumers stop throwing electrical items in the bin.
The EU parliament failed to amend the law to make it illegal to dispose of such goods with household trash, but governments could chose to legislate in this way if they want.
EU member states will have to ensure that 4 kg (8.8 lb) of old appliances per person per year are collected by the end of 2006.
The law aims to reduce the estimated total 3.5 tonnes of waste each EU citizen generates a year, most of which is buried or incinerated.
Industry said it was satisfied at the final agreement between EU governments and the Strasbourg-based assembly.
\"Manufacturers are unanimous in recognising that the final package has found a balance between promoting better environmental protection and putting in place workable mechanisms for dealing with the waste problem,\" CECED said.
Manufacturers and exporters of everything from calculators to electric cookers will be responsible for funding the recycling of their own brand products made after 2005.
Karl-Heinz Florenz, the lead member of the European Parliament (MEP) on the law, said forcing firms to pay for recycling would encourage them to design products that were easier to deal with at the end of their working life.
But consumers also had a duty to recycle, he added.
\"Your hair-dryer shouldn\'t just be thrown away in the dustbin,\" Florenz said, adding that the law would rely on citizens to recycle without resorting to \"the big stick of law and order\".
Producers will able to charge consumers an additional fee on the price of new goods to pay for recycling products already on the market before 2005. Such schemes already exists in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Four of the biggest manufacturers, Braun (G.N), Electrolux (ELUXb.ST), Sony (6758.T) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N) said earlier this week they will collaborate on recycling.
Kieren Mayers, an environmental manager at Sony, said the firms\' European \"waste management procurement platform\" would lower the costs of complying with the new EU law.
\"It is predicted that a major beneficial effect of the platform will be significantly increased recycling rates of products, by incorporating new product designs at much more viable and lower cost,\" Mayers said.
The law also bans several hazardous substances, including mercury, cadmium and lead, from most uses in the manufacture of electrical goods.
Story by Tom Miles
REUTERS NEWS PICTURE SERVICE
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