EU states get final warning on electronic waste
by Reuters UK
11 July 2005 (Brussels) –
Eight EU governments have received a final warning for failing to comply with European laws on tackling electronic and electrical waste and may soon face legal action, the European Commission said on Monday. If the countries did not now turn three laws on collecting, recycling and reusing this waste into national laws, they face fines at the European Court of Justice, the EU's highest court.
The eight countries are Britain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Malta and Poland. All EU governments were meant to have the EU laws on national statute books by August 2004.
"Nobody wants to see old computer and television sets piling up at the roadside and polluting the environment. Therefore efficient collection and recycling/reuse is necessary," EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said in a statement.
Electro-scrap is the European Union's fastest growing waste area, rising by up to 5 percent each year -- three times faster than average household waste, for example.
Each EU citizen produces 17-20 kg (37-45 lb) of electronic and electrical waste, or e-waste, every year, the Commission says.
About 90 percent of e-waste is still dumped untreated into landfill sites, incinerated or eventually recovered -- raising the risk of leaks into soil, water and the atmosphere.
The first two laws relate to collecting electronic and electrical waste for consumers to take products back to shops or collection points for free. It details reuse and recycling targets, and financial obligations for producers.
The third law bans certain hazardous substances, mainly heavy metals and industrial chemicals, from electronic equipment starting from July 2006.
France, Italy and Britain had failed to turn any of the three EU laws into national laws, while Finland had not done so in one of its provinces. Estonia, Malta and Poland needed to act on two laws, and Greece on just one, the Commission said.
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