Stringent new EU e-waste rules officially came into effect yesterday, paving the way for a fundamental overhaul of how technology companies, retailers, recycling firms, and consumers handle waste electronic equipment and devices.
The updating of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, which first came into effect in 2003, will impose a series of ambitious new e-waste recovery and recycling targets on the IT and electronics industry while also introducing stringent new penalties for companies and member states who fail to comply with the rules.
The original WEEE directive represented the world's first comprehensive e-waste legislation, placing a "producer responsibility" on manufacturers that made them legally and financially responsible for the safe collection and disposal of old equipment.
However, the directive has been widely criticised in recent years for struggling to sufficiently promote the re-use and recycling of valuable electronic resources and failing to crack down on the illegal export of old equipment to developing countries for scrap.
The updated directive, which was approved by the European Parliament last month, significantly strengthens a range of e-waste regulations and imposes new targets that will require member states to collect 45 per cent of electronic equipment sold for approved recycling or disposal from 2016, rising to 65 per cent of equipment sold or 85 per cent of electronic waste generated by 2019, depending on which goal member states choose to adopt.
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