European Union tackles electronic waste

Jan. 23, 2012 at 1:18 PM
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BRUSSELS, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The European Parliament says large electronics retailers must take back old equipment, considered "e-waste," without charge to consumers.

The new rules are part of changes to the European Union's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, PC World reported Thursday.

Only one-third of EU electrical and electronic waste is separately collected and appropriately treated, and officials say the new rules will increase the collection target from its current 9 pounds per-capita to about 44 pounds per-capita by 2020.

It is estimated the annual volume of e-waste will increase to 12 million tons by 2020 and the European Union wants 85 percent of that collected and treated.

"Proper treatment of WEEE is important to prevent harm to human health and the environment," EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said, "and its systematic collection is the precondition for professional recycling of the valuable raw materials like gold, silver, copper and rare metals, contained in our used TVs, laptops and mobile phones."

The new rules will also forbid illegal exports of e-waste.

"It is long overdue that we stop making developing countries the dumping ground for our hazardous waste," Michalis Tremopoulos, Green member of the European Parliament, said.

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