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ETIRA lobbies EU Commission on cartridges in new WEEE directive

September 6, 2013

ETIRARlogosmallThe trade association argued that cartridges must “remain available for reuse” and out of the WEEE legislation, after a new FAQ paper included cartridges.

ETIRA’s lobbying of the EU Commission has come from a recent proposal by the Commission for a new paper regarding the upcoming WEEE (Waste of Electronic and Electrical Equipment) directive, which was decided last year and goes into force in 2014. In terms of cartridges, the directive considers them “out of scope”, as the 2002 WEEE directive also stated, but with the update of the FAQ paper on this latest legislation, ETIRA has found that “cartridges are in scope” in terms of waste of electronic equipment.

The association’s perspective is that cartridges must be able to be reused to “reduce [the] environmental footprint of printing”, and it argued in its letter to the European Commission that a “non-legal unilateral Commission paper like a[n] FAQ cannot override the related piece of law”, which it adds was decided “in a democratic way by the European Parliament”.

ETIRA also pointed out that cartridges being included is “bad EU environment policy”, because the policy’s objective is to “promote sound end-of-life solutions” for electronics, focusing on “revalorisation”, or reuse or remanufacturing, “when possible”. Reuse has a “priority” over recycling in this regard, and the remanufacturing of used printer cartridges is a “well-established EU-wide industry” offering cartridges a “second or even third or fourth life”.

The association argued that remanufactured cartridges produce 45 to 60 percent less CO2 than a new cartridge, saving oil and other resources, and stated that consumers prefer to reuse cartridges “because they are often 20 to 40 percent less expensive” than newer models.

ETIRA’s Secretary General Vincent van Dijk noted: “If all printer cartridges would be classified as EEE, today’s availability of empty cartridges on the open market could diminish. Across the EU, many local authorities have no capacity to separately collect all empty cartridges during the printer’s life cycle. As a result, many more empty cartridges would go straight to landfill and/or incineration after firsst use, instead of being reused.

“The new WEEE obliges all Member States to collect a higher percentage of electronic waste than under the old WEEE. And maybe some regulators thought that including cartridges under the new WEEE is an easy way to add a few percentage points to the total number of collected volumes, and thus meet the higher targets set by the new WEEE faster without having to do an extra collection effort.

“But that is just optical: although the numbers may then look better in terms of percentages, in real volumes there may actually be more electronic waste, not less! Therefore, from an environmental perspective, this proposal is counterproductive. We insist that for cartridges, the status quo is maintained throughout the upcoming six-year scope review period. ETIRA calls on all stakeholders to support its viewpoint.”

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