German electroscrap law stalled in Bundesrat

Debate over financing, take-back, retroactivity, threatens to take ordinance off political agenda

German government efforts to legislate on old electrical/electronic equipment remain unsuccessful after more than two years and could now be put on hold until proposed EU rules emerge, according to sources. Arguments over retroactive application of producer responsibility for waste have hampered agreement, just as has happened in parallel EU discussions over management of scrap cars.

The previous conservative government proposed a law on IT and communications electroscrap, but lost the 1998 elections before it could be finalised. The upper parliamentary house (Bundesrat) in which Germany's states are represented, proposed amendments last summer, which have since been opened for consultation by the Bundesrat economics committee.

Both the original and the Bundesrat amended proposals include retroactive producer responsibility. The main difference between them is that the plan now covers a wider range of electrical and electronic goods, including information and communications equipment, entertainment equipment, household appliances and small household appliances.

During an extended consultation period, the Bundesrat's economics committee has received conflicting opinions from interested parties. On Monday, Germany's main waste industry association (BDE) strongly backed the plan. Earlier this month, however, German electrical and electronic equipment manufacturers' association, ZVEI, made strong criticisms, arguing that retroactive application of producer responsibility would be unconstitutional.

Views on the draft law's prospects differ. A German environment ministry official told ENDS Daily that the government intended to proceed. Other sources suggested that it was more likely that the proposal would lie dormant at least until the European Commission came forward with proposals for an EU directive on electroscrap. This is expected before the end of April.

Follow Up:
German environment ministry, tel: +49 30 285500; Bundesrat, tel: +49 228 91000; BDE, tel: +49 221 934 7000; ZVEI, tel: +49 69 63 02 202.

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