EU electroscrap rules "risk stifling ecodesign"

Eight companies break ranks to argue for individual not shared producer responsibility

Eight major electrical and electronic goods manufacturers have broken ranks with the rest of the industry by calling on the European Commission to write individual rather than shared producer responsibility into the forthcoming EU draft electroscrap directive, which is due to be formally unveiled as early as next month.

The companies are lobbying EU environment commissioner Margot Wallström to support their view against opposition from most members of European electrical goods association Orgalime and white goods association Ceced. They claim that the most recent draft of the directive prepared by Ms Wallström's directorate some four weeks ago remains vague on the issue.

The development marks a break from previous debates over producer responsibility in which industry generally opposed producer responsibility altogether, calling instead for it to be shared with other parts of the supply chain. Now, while the bulk of the electrogoods sectors accept collective producer responsibility, Electrolux, ICL, Sony, Nokia, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Ericsson and Intel want it to be applied on a firm-by-firm basis.

According to the firms, making producer responsibility a collective matter, with the expense of recycling end-of-life products shared evenly among manufacturers, would simply transfer costs to industry without giving incentives for greener design. Companies that did not take proactive steps to build ecodesign in their products would see the costs shared with all other manufacturers, while those that were proactive would see very little financial benefit.

In contrast, Viktor Sundberg of Electrolux told ENDS Daily today, individual producer responsibility would be "real producer responsibility that works". Companies would have a real incentive to make products that could be easily and cheaply recycled and didn't contain hazardous materials.

The group stresses that, while it supports individual producer responsibility, it is happy to see collective responsibility for collection and recycling systems. Mr Sundberg claimed that much of the opposition to individual producer responsibility was based on a misunderstanding between the two.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111; Electrolux, tel: +46 8 738 6000.

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