WEEE directive "discriminates against reuse"

New lobby founded to defend "environmentally and socially sustainable" electroscrap treatment

EU organisations employing low-skill and disabled people to reuse, recycle and resell discarded household goods have formed an alliance to lobby for changes to the EU's draft directive on the treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Dubbed Rreuse, the body represents 13 "social economy" federations or enterprises from eight countries and was launched in Brussels on Friday.

The WEEE directive was proposed by the Commission in June to counter the huge increase in electronic waste forecast over the coming years (ENDS Daily 13 June). Rreuse claims that, with its current wording, the law will disadvantage a sector already achieving sustainability.

It says the text threatens them by effectively discounting whole-appliance reuse from tough expected equipment reuse and recovery targets. Currently, only individual components from dismantled machines count towards the targets to be met by equipment producers, it says.

"We strongly regret that the reuse of whole appliances is discriminated against in this unsustainable manner....Obviously, the major effect will be that treatment facilities and producers will prefer the dismantling of reusable whole appliances in order to reuse the components or to recycle the materials," Rreuse says in a position paper.

The group also wants the draft law changed so that reusable appliances are separated from other waste at collection points rather than after they are transported to treatment centres. "Transportation within containers and other forms of handling... will most definitely damage the appliances," it says, so restricting its supply of raw materials.

Rreuse members include cooperatives, NGOs and volunteer community projects, providing work for 40,000 people. The organisation claims that its members internalise social costs by employing people otherwise ignored by the mainstream job market, and that they are "competitive in macroeconomic terms." It expects to form working groups soon on other waste streams such as textiles.

Follow Up:
Rreuse, tel: +32 3 281 0330. See also the group's founding declaration and WEEE directive position paper.

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