Significant changes around the reuse of WEEE could be on the cards as MEPs will be voting on the WEEE directive later in the year (see our blog explaining the EU legislative process). The European Parliament’s (EP) draft report was recently published and the final version is due to be adopted by the EP’s Environment Committee by 4th October 2011.
The EP’s draft report is very welcome as it calls for the establishment of reuse targets. Although the current WEEE Directive does recognise the superior environmental benefits of reuse over recycling, as it contains language that prioritises reuse, there are no specific targets which means that, unfortunately, recycling often becomes the practical reality. The EP has proposed that the new directive would contain separate reuse and recycling targets, and, although some of their suggested reuse targets are far too small (at just 5%), it constitutes an important first step to prioritising reuse over recycling.
We strongly believe there should be targets for reuse, for a number of reasons. The WEEE legislation is based on the waste hierarchy which encourages the prevention of waste, followed by the reuse and refurbishment of goods, then value recovery through recycling and energy recovery being the final option. Mandating reuse targets would help ensure that reuse actually occurred and that disposal of e-waste reflected the priorities in the waste hierarchy.