The EU Commission drafted the first directive aiming to minimise the environmental impact of WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), promote recycling and reduce resource consumption.
The Eu Commission presented a new proposal for a Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive that would help harmonize national measures. The directive improved on the previous legislation that was first enacted in the early 1980s and then reviewed to clarify the definition of “Packaging” and increase recovery and goals. In 2005, new Member States were given transitional periods to catch up with the existing recovery and recycling targets. On November 4 2013, the Commission adopted a new proposal to reduce the use of plastic bags.
The EU WEEE Directive, which was adopted on 27 January 2003, established a series of important concepts: “Producer Responsibility Principle”, calling for the financing of waste management (Polluter Pays Principle) and the creation of incentives for eco-design; harmonization of national measures, establishing common minimum standards for WEEE management; preservation of resources (materials and energy) – promoting best practices; diversion of WEEE from landfills and incinerators – towards environmentally sound re-use and other forms of recovery.
The EU Battery Directive came into effect in September 2006. It prohibits the distribution of batteries with high mercury and cadmium contents and calls for the collection and recycling of batteries, accumulators and related waste to minimize their negative impact on the environment.
In order to promote recycling and a safer, greener environment, the European Union has begun not only phasing out the production and use of harmful substances, but actively driving member states to recycle and re-use the precious (and often hazardous) materials that are used in so many of our industrial and household items. The EU has set legal and economic incentives, including: landfill bans, bans on the incineration of recyclable waste, the collection of biological waste and taxation on toxic and non-sustainable waste. To ensure a safer and healthier environment, the EU has adopted clear and ambitious waste reduction, reuse and recycling targets. The EU producer responsibility legislation places an obligation on producers of EEE, batteries and packaging to pay for collection and treatment of products when they become waste.
Why a WEEE Directive?
- The waste produced by electrical and electronic equipment is the fastest growing category of waste: 2.5-2.7% growth/year in the EU-27.
- Prior to the WEEE Directive, 90% of WEEE was landfilled, incinerated or recovered without pre-treatment.
- This type of waste is full of substances and materials that can be used again and that is hazardous for the environment if not treated correctly.
- Illegal exports of WEEE to developing countries pose a significant negative environmental impact.
Why a Battery Directive?
- The waste produced by batteries is constantly increasing and is driven by the growing demand for miniaturised battery components.
- Promote a less polluted environment by minimising the harmful substances in batteries.
- Batteries that do not comply with the hazardous content limits are prohibited on the European market.
- Promote research and provide economic incentives to improve battery environmental performance over whole life cycle.
- Revenues from recycling are generally sufficient to cover all of the collection and re-processing costs involved in the sector.
Why a Packaging Directive?
- Limit the weight and volume of packaging and ensure safety and hygiene;
- Reduce the content of hazardous substances and materials in packaging materials;
- Promote reusable or recoverable packaging.