Sweden finalises electroscrap takeback law

Government adopts full producer responsibility rules due to enter into force in July 2001

Sweden is to introduce what government officials describe as one of Europe's most advanced systems for dealing with electrical and electronic scrap, to take effect from July 2001. Approved by the government last week, the law anticipates EU legislation due to be formally proposed soon by the European Commission.

Under the final text, the law states that customers buying new electro equipment will have the right to deliver an equivalent amount of old goods to the producer for disposal, irrespective of who manufactured it. The regulations were originally scheduled to come into force last year, were delayed while approval was sought from the European Commission.

Items covered include household, IT, office, telecommunications, video, audio and television equipment, as well as cameras, clocks and games. Medical and laboratory equipment are also on the list, although not refrigerators, which are already disposed of through local authorities.

Producers will be required to provide public information about this service, and to demonstrate that they carry out recycling and disposal in accordance with environmental and health and safety guidelines. These require components containing certain kinds of brominated flame retardants and computer screens to be handled separately.

According to national environment officials, volumes of Swedish electroscrap have exploded in recent years, from about 34,200 tonnes in 1992 to 50,000 tonnes last year, with about SKr 26.4bn (euros 3.2bn) worth of domestic and office electronics now sold annually. The system will formalise and expand on a voluntary system that has been in place for several years.

Norway introduced producer responsibility for electroscrap last year, while Switzerland and the Netherlands both have partial responsibility, Swedish officials say. Denmark introduced new regulations in December 1999, but municipalities have overall responsibility for the system.

Follow Up:
Swedish environmental protection agency, tel: +46 8 698 1000. Details of the new producer responsibility system are available on the web site, in Swedish only.

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