Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) collection and recovery organisations from across Europe have reached an agreement on a new set of standards for WEEE management.
In April 2011, the WEEE Forum, a European non-profit association of more than 40 WEEE collection and recovery organisations, approved standards on the collection, sorting, storage, transportation, treatment and disposal of such waste. These standards were developed as part of the WEEELABEX project, which is being implemented by the WEEE Forum in co-operation with stakeholders from the producers’ community and processing industry.
Part-financed by the EU LIFE programme, WEELABEX addresses weaknesses in the management of WEEE in Europe. At present, a patchwork of legal and contractual requirements of different ambitions and enforced with different levels of determination hinders economies of scale and creates an uneven playing field.
In some parts of Europe, for example, WEEE treatment technologies are cutting-edge and workers’ safety properly ensured, while in others depollution and mechanical treatment are performed in workshops with inadequate safety measures or inappropriate technologies.
Covering all ten WEEE categories, the new standards will ensure a common approach across the EU. The standards aim to:
According to Andreas Röthlisberger, WEEE Forum President, the approval of these standards “shows that the producer community is taking the principle of producer responsibility very seriously”.
Operators that fall within the scope of the scheme include collection and logistics sites, transporters and facilities involved in dismantling, depollution, preparation for reuse, disposal and recycling.
Initially, only operators having contracts with WEEE Forum members will be required to implement the standards. This corresponds to two-thirds of officially reported WEEE collection in Europe. However, the standards are expected to be adopted on a voluntary basis by parties with whom the WEEE Forum members have no contracts.
“I expect authorities in Europe to acknowledge and provide support in the implementation of the standards,” says Pascal Leroy, Secretary General of the WEEE Forum. He also believes that the European CENELEC standardisation body will eventually issue its own standards, based on the WEEE Forum standards.
“WEEELABEX standards for sustainable WEEE management” (WEEE Forum):