Recasting the WEEE Directive
The process of “recasting” the WEEE Directive is now well into its second reading. There are three distinct groups involved in the process – the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers (composed of representatives of all the Member States) and the European Commission. There are many points of disagreement between the Parliament and the Council of Ministers. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that there are two key issues that separate them – and that positions may be polarizing rather than converging.
The two issues are fundamental to the way the legislation will operate.
Targets for the collection of WEEE
The first relates to targets. The European Parliament wants to set targets for the collection of WEEE at 85% of “WEEE generated” – to come into force by 2016. The method of calculating WEEE generated has not yet been defined. By contrast, the Council of Ministers want a target of 65% of the weight of EEE sold (put on market), to be implemented in stages leading up to six years after the implementation of the Directive (probably 2020). So as yet, there is no agreement either on the basis of the calculation – or the actual percentage of the target – or the date by which it should be implemented.
Producer WEEE compliance registration
The second key issue concerns the question of how Producers register for WEEE compliance in each Member State. The European Parliament (and the Commission) wants a Europe-wide system in which a Producer registration in one Member State should be valid across the whole of Europe. But the Council of Ministers wants national registration. Without this, they argue, they will not be able to enforce compliance.
So where does Recolight stand with WEEE targets and producer registration?
Supportive of high targets
We are supportive of high targets, particularly for lamps. The benefits associated with higher recycling rates means that it is appropriate to set ambitious goals. Setting lamps aside for one moment, however, there are many instances, particularly in the general business sector, where much effective recycling or re-use takes place – but which is not recorded. What we must therefore avoid is signing up to targets that place additional burdens on existing businesses, just so we can “count what they are doing”, so as to achieve a target. We would therefore support a “WEEE Generated” target, perhaps more accurately called a “smart put on market” target provided that it is clearly defined before the Directive is finalised, and that it takes account of existing practices and market conditions.
Basis must be national registration
For Producer registration, we remain convinced, as do many of our Producer Members, that the basis must be national registration, and not EU-wide registration. There are many problems with EU-wide registration, but enforcement is top of the list. How can a UK based enforcement officer take action against a Producer based and registered in Bulgaria? Equally, how can a company (or scheme) based in the UK make arrangements for obligated WEEE that arises in Latvia? Without national registration there will be no enforcement. Without enforcement, it will be those law abiding companies that do comply who will be financially penalized, whilst others which do not comply, will be rewarded.