Plans for European Green Electronics Law Roasted

BRUSSELS, Belgium, January 22, 2002 (ENS) - Deep industry antipathy towards a planned European Union directive to promote greener design of electrical and electronic equipment has been revealed after the European Commission published responses to a public consultation on the law.

Dubbed the "EEE directive," the initiative is being drafted by the Commission's Enterprise Directorate to complement draft European Union laws on equipment waste recycling (WEEE) and substance bans (RoHS) already at a more advanced stage of preparation. It will use the EU's "new approach" to set product standards for less environmentally burdensome design.

electronics

Laptop and cell phone (Photo courtesy Freefoto.com)
Last year, the directorate circulated its latest thinking on how the law should look, pending the result of a long term impact assessment currently being carried out.

This draft followed a stakeholder consultation event which signalled growing acceptance of the proposals from industry. But the new text seems to have prompted a hardening of attitudes among manufacturers.

Spearheading the opposition is a group of U.S. producers led by the American Electronics Association, which calls outright for the proposals to be withdrawn as "unworkable ... with potentially significant negative consequences for ... technologies, consumers and the environment."

European manufacturers are hardly less hostile. White goods association Ceced described itself as "very critical" of the whole approach of the proposals, which it said left manufacturers "puzzled" about the level of legal certainty the law could provide and worried about its financial impact.

Meanwhile, European IT, telecoms and consumer electronics group Eicta said some of its members had "major doubts about the overall concept" of the approach. "It has not been made clear what benefit the EEE directive would provide, nor which environmental impacts it tackles over and above the objectives of similar legislative instruments ... under development," Eicta said.

Denmark was the only European Union member state to respond to the consultation and it reiterated previous warnings that the new approach should not encroach too far into environmental policy-making. "Environmental protection ... is ... to a large extent a matter of political priorities, which should not be left to standardization bodies without adequate political and democratic control," a submission from the country's environmental protection agency says.

Similar comments came in a response from a group of environmental and consumers NGOs.

logo

{Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London. Email: envdaily@ends.co.uk}