Norway appliance prices jump to fund recycling

Charges introduced to cover costs of forthcoming waste electronics recycling obligations

Retail prices of electrical and electronic equipment on sale in Norwegian shops rose by between NKr20 (euros 2.3) and NKr300 yesterday with the introduction of a series of "recycling charges". Environmental and consumer groups have criticised retailers for launching an aggressive "beat the surcharges" sales campaign in the run-up to the charges' imposition. Under a law due to enter into force in July, Norwegian importers, manufacturers and retailers of electrical and electronic goods will be responsible for taking back and recycling discarded products (ENDS Daily 16 March 1998). Based on an agreement with the government, a minimum of 80% of relevant products are to be recovered from the waste stream by 2004. Eight trade associations agreed to fund the expected extra costs of these activities by introducing transparent charges on the retail prices of affected equipment. The Norwegian government stresses that the charges are not a government-imposed tax. Over 12m electrical and electronic products are sold in Norway annually, including nearly 250,000 electric toothbrushes, 600,000 computers, nearly 650,000 electric heaters, and 800,000 mobile phones. In all, about 145,000 tonnes of waste arises annually from these products' disposal.

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