The European Commission has formally asked eight Member States (
The Directives in question aim to ensure that e-waste, which often contains hazardous materials, is not simply thrown away, but is collected, recycled and reused, with the remaining waste being properly treated. The actions are part of a series of environment-related infringement decisions against several Member States which the Commission is currently announcing.
“Member States have agreed on ambitious legislation to tackle the problems caused by rapidly growing amounts of e-waste. But they also have to do the follow-up work and implement what they have agreed," said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.
In 2002, the Council and European Parliament adopted the Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE Directive). This Directive requires Member States to ensure the establishment of systems for the collection of e-waste by August 2005. Furthermore, they have to ensure its reuse, recovery and recycling, and the sound disposal of the remaining waste. When the collection systems are in place, consumers will be able to take these products back to shops and collection points for free.
The Directive also sets collection, re-use and recycling targets and outlines the financial obligations of producers. A 2003 amendment to the WEEE Directive further clarifies those obligations with regard to the financing of professional (i.e. non-household) equipment.
Together with the WEEE Directive, the Council and European Parliament adopted the Directive on the Restriction of the Use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS). This Directive bans certain hazardous substances from electronic equipment from
The banned substances include heavy metals and a number of hazardous industrial chemicals. They can cause asthma and cancer, and damage the brain, liver, kidneys and the nervous and cardio-vascular systems.
In the EU, electronic scrap is growing at 3-5% per year, which is three times faster than average waste. Each EU citizen currently produces around 17-20 kg of e-waste per year. Some 90% of this waste is still landfilled, incinerated, or recovered without any pre-treatment, allowing the substances it contains to make their way into soil, water and air where they pose a risk to human health.
The transposition of all three Directives was due before
The Commission has therefore sent final written warnings – the last step before referral to the European Court of Justice - to the eight Member States.