Norway to require electronics waste take-back

Producer responsibility regulation to be backed by voluntary agreement with industry

The Norwegian environment ministry today announced new legislation requiring importers and producers of electric and electronic (EE) equipment to take back discarded EE products and waste materials and to accept responsibility for their recycling or safe disposal.

At a news conference announcing the measure, which the government says makes Norway "one of the first countries in the world" to adopt such a regulation, half a dozen trade bodies involved in the EE industry also signed an agreement obliging them to ensure within the next five years that least 80 per cent of Norwegian EE waste, currently about 145,000 tonnes annually, is collected, and to work for reductions in the generation of such waste.

Environment Minister Guro Fjellanger told journalists she was "pleased and proud" to have secured "a comprehensive system" for dealing with EE waste and praised the "sense of responsibility and spirit of cooperation" demonstrated by the industry.

When the regulation takes effect on 1 July next year, consumers will be able to deliver EE waste (the agreement specifies "discarded white goods, personal computers, telephones, cables, electronic and industrial electric materials, etc.") free of charge to dealers or local authority collection points. The producers and importers will be responsible for setting up regional assembly points and for transport and treatment from those points.

The measure is to be financed by a "recycling charge" levied on new EE products -- an example, says the govt, of the "polluter pays principle".

The Netherlands and Switzerland are currently working on similar regulations, while the European Commission is formulating an EU directive on EE waste.

Follow Up:
Norwegian environment ministry, tel. +47 22 24 90 90.

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