Product Details Supplier Info More products

The RAL Quality Assurance Association for the Demanufacture of Refrigerated Equipment has welcomed the European Commission’s proposal to tighten up the WEEE Directive.

In the opinion of RAL, definite and realistic WEEE collection and recycling rates are essential if the environmental goals of the WEEE Directive are to be achieved.

The association notes with regret, however, that the Commission’s proposals do not include binding minimum quality standards for the treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment.

The amendments to the EC Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) recently proposed by the Commission represent a slight tightening of some parts of the previous text.

The specifications in the Directive regarding WEEE collection rates were highly unsatisfactory and the RAL Quality Assurance Association welcomes the fact that the Commission is now seeking to optimise the efficiency of WEEE collection systems by proposing a basic collection rate of 65 per cent.

RAL agrees that stipulating a specific percentage collection rate is a much better solution than the previous requirement to collect 4kg of WEEE per inhabitant per year.

The revised requirement is better able to take into account the actual situations in different European Union member states.

In future, the Commission wants to see the financial responsibility that producers have for treating WEEE systematically extended to include the collection of waste equipment.

RAL welcomes this step as it will also contribute to increasing WEEE collection rates.

The newly created Article 7(4) specifies a deadline for the introduction of a special collection rate for waste refrigeration and freezer appliances (referred to in the proposed revision document as ‘cooling and freezing equipment’).

In the opinion of the RAL Quality Assurance Association, this date has been set too far in the future.

In view of the enormous damage to the climate caused by the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) contained in end-of-life refrigeration equipment, European Regulation (EC) Number 2037/2000 on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer effectively stipulated in the year 2000 a 100 per cent collection rate for these substances (Article 16(2), Regulation (EC) Number 2037/2000).

It is therefore essential that the section of the Commission’s proposed amendment to the WEEE Directive referred to above (Article 7(4)) is adjusted accordingly.

Adopting a collection rate of only 65 per cent for waste refrigeration equipment is absolutely unacceptable, given that an average European fridge effectively releases on the order of 3,000kg of CO2 into the atmosphere if the CFCs it contains are not retrieved and safely destroyed.

The RAL Quality Assurance Association fully concurs with the Commission’s proposal to increase recycling rates.

However, the text of Article 11 should emphasise more strongly that reuse of waste fridges and freezers containing CFCs is prohibited and that this type of appliance cannot therefore contribute to the 80 per cent ‘rate of recovery’ specified for large household appliances.

The RAL Quality Assurance Association is also particularly critical of the fact that the setting up of minimum quality standards is still not a binding requirement, but remains something that member states can implement at their discretion.

RAL assumes that in future, EU member states will be making a greater effort to honour their obligations to protect the Earth’s climate and ozone layer than has been the case up until now.

It also hopes that national implementation of the existing provisions of Regulation (EC) Number 2037/2000 will improve.

According to RAL, it is particularly significant that the Commission’s proposal has taken into account current findings regarding the treatment of waste refrigeration equipment containing hydrocarbons.

The revised text of the WEEE Directive continues to specify the mandatory removal of hydrocarbons from waste refrigeration appliances and their subsequent recovery or disposal.

This will clearly put an end to the current practice of treating end-of-life refrigeration equipment in car shredders, which is still common in Europe today.

If the Commission’s proposal is ultimately adopted by the European Parliament, EU member states will need to implement measures to bring about rapid improvements in this area.

The proposed revision of the WEEE Directive also includes minimum monitoring requirements to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Directive.

Minimum requirements are also to be introduced for monitoring the export of waste electrical and electronic equipment.

The RAL Quality Assurance Association supports both these proposed revisions.

All in all, the RAL Quality Assurance Association welcomes the proposed amendments to the WEEE Directive.

In those areas where the European Commission has been less rigorous (minimum quality standards, definite deadline for collection rates for waste refrigeration equipment), the onus now lies with the member states themselves to adapt their national laws and regulations to ensure the systematic implementation of environmentally sound fridge recycling practices.

RAL: Quality Assurance Association

View full profile