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European Council Goes for Electronic Waste Reforms

The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favor of making a major overhaul of the European Union’s regulations regarding electronic waste. The environment committee of the European Parliament took the vote on Tuesday, voting 52-1 (with five abstaining) in favor of creating a new package of regulations to both increase the rate of electronic waste recycling and to crack down on electronics and waste management companies who have been illegally exporting such outdated electronic equipment, including old cell phones, to countries in the developing world.

The reforms to the existing Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) will set far more demanding targets for the collection of electronic waste and increase the obligation on electronic and IT equipment manufacturers and retailers to make certain that e-waste is being both collected and recycled in a safe and efficient manner.

The European Council of member states had been aiming for a collection target of no less than 65 percent in the great majority of countries in the European Union within nine years by 2020, with the rest to sign up by no later than two years after that. However, the environment committee members voted on Tuesday to increase the target to 85 percent, to be brought in within five years by 2016.

“Collecting and recycling e-waste is good for the environment and good for the economy,” says rapporteur Karl-Heinz Florenz.