Brussels, 27 September 2012
Environment: Commission takes Sweden to Court over failure to comply with e-waste legislation
Brussels, 27 September 2012 – The European Commission is taking Sweden to the EU Court of Justice for failing to properly transpose EU legislation on electronic waste. The Commission has concerns about shortcomings in the Swedish transposition of the Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) into national legislation. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is therefore referring the case to the EU Court of Justice.
Commissioner Potočnik said: "E-waste is a crucial resource for Europe's future. That's why we need strong legislation in this area, and we need it to apply throughout the Union. It's the foundation for a promising industry where Europe can lead the way."
The Commission initiated an infringement procedure against Sweden in 2007 for its failure to properly transpose a number of provisions in the WEEE Directive, including Annex III of the Directive, which sets the technical requirements for sites storing and treating WEEE. E-waste is often toxic, and careful storage in impermeable, weatherproof sites is therefore important to prevent potential leaks. Sweden was sent a Reasoned Opinion on the matter in June 2009. In their reply to the Commission, the Swedish authorities stated that they would amend the national legislation in order to properly reflect the requirements specified in Annex III, and that the amended legislation would enter into force on 1 January 2010. But as the Commission has still not been notified of the amended legislation, it considers that Annex III has been incorrectly transposed. Sweden is therefore being called before the Court.
The WEEE Directive (Directive 2002/96/EC) has been in force since February 2003. It provides for the creation of collection schemes where consumers return their used e-waste free of charge. The purpose is to prevent harm to human health and the environment from hazardous substances contained in WEEE, and to increase the recycling and/or re-use of products and materials. In December 2008, the Commission proposed a recast WEEE Directive, and this has now been modified and adopted by the Parliament and the Council.
The Directive aims at improving the management of the rapidly growing amount of WEEE generated in the EU. Currently only one third of electrical and electronic waste in the EU is separately collected within the documented system. The existing EU collection target is 4 kg of WEEE per capita, representing about 2 million tons per year, out of around 10 million tonnes of WEEE generated annually in the EU. By 2020, it is estimated that the volume of WEEE will increase to 12 million tons. The final target of the new Directive, an ambitious 85% of all WEEE generated, will ensure that in 2020 around 10 million tons, or roughly 20kg per capita, will be separately collected in the EU.