US industry "optimistic" on EU electroscrap law

American electronics firms hopeful that Commission will dilute full producer responsibility

America's electronics industry says it is "optimistic" that the European Commission will be persuaded to amend draft legislation that would require manufacturers to take sole responsibility for recycling waste electrical and electronic (WEE) equipment.

Originally scheduled to be proposed formally in 1998, the directive is still languishing in the Commission in a third revised form (ENDS Daily 12 August 1999), and industry sources do not expect publication before April. The proposals have come under heavy fire from the US government and businesses, some of which have threatened bringing action against the EU through the World Trade Organisation (ENDS Daily 5 May 1999).

According to American Electronics Association spokesperson Jennifer Guhl, the Commission's internal markets directorate, in particular, has been "very receptive" to ideas the association set out in a position paper late last year. The AEA's central premise is that setting up a separate collection system for electroscrap would place an additional burden on the environment.

Arguing from US experience, it says the most environmentally beneficial solution is for collection and sorting to be organised by municipalities, with shared responsibility and industry participation along fundamentally voluntary lines. Experiments with purely private systems had failed to boost recycling levels, Ms Guhl said.

Follow Up:
AEA, tel: +1 202 682 9110.

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