The 25 member states of the European Union from now on must ensure that electrical and electronic appliances are being disposed of correctly, according to a recycling law that became effective on August 13. The Brussels-based legislation, known as the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) directive, requires that manufacturers assist in the recycling process by providing collection points for used electronic and electrical equipment at no cost to the consumer. The law furthermore requires that after August 13, all electrical and electronic products manufactured in the EU bear a warning label indicating that they must be recycled.
According to EU statistics, each European produces an average of between 17 and 20 kilograms (between 37 and 44 pounds) of electrical and electronic waste annually -- an amount that increases between three and five percent each year.
The directive aims to limit the untreated disposal of these products, which contain heavy metals and other chemical compounds that are harmful to humans and to the environment. The legislation is directed toward small and large household electrical appliances from coffee grinders to refrigerators, and at electronic equipment such as computers, mobile phones, light fixtures, fax machines and stereo equipment.
Currently all EU member states -- with the exception of France, Britain, Poland and Malta -- have sent Brussels a description of measures they will take to apply the directive, according to a document distributed by the EU's executive Commission. The EU-wide implementation of the law is estimated to cost between 500 and 900 million euros (US$22 million and $1.12 billion) per year.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005