Industry in last stand on EU electroscrap law

Orgalime says directive costs underestimated; Commission set for launch next week

Recent changes made to draft EU rules on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) are a significant step forward but do not go far enough, according to industry body Orgalime. The association has launched an eleventh hour bid to delay formal adoption of a draft directive as the European Commission prepares for expected formal adoption next week.

The fourth draft of the directive was circulated by the Commission's environment directorate earlier this month and drew a positive response from several industry groups (ENDS Daily 16 May). In a response released this week, Orgalime welcomes changes such as the removal of producer responsibility for waste collection, but repeats several criticisms made last year (ENDS Daily 20 October 1999).

In particular, it claims that the Commission has "grossly underestimated" the costs of implementing the directive. It also warns that last minute changes which would force producers to pay separately for treating "existing" and "new" waste streams could increase costs further. It does not question the changes per se, however, reflecting an industry split over the issue (ENDS Daily 18 May).

European Commission department heads met yesterday to iron out the final points of dispute over the proposals. Officials are being tight-lipped over the outcome of the meeting, but industry sources suggest other directorates are still arguing for changes to core issues such as bans on several hazardous substances.

The environment directorate is confident of maintaining a strong proposal, however, and has been buoyed by the precedent-setting adoption of the end-of-life vehicles directive, which introduces strong substance bans from 2005 and "significant" producer responsibility as early as 2001 (ENDS Daily 24 May).

The adoption of the directive is now foreseen for Wednesday 7 June after a further meeting of officials on Monday. A source in the enterprise directorate told ENDS Daily today the Commission was "confident we can find a solution to everyone's satisfaction," adding that it "doesn't look like the date will slip".

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111; Orgalime, tel: +32 2 706 8235, its position paper on the electroscrap directive, plus one on implications for liquid crystal displays.

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