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Green legislation - meeting the challenge

Connect, no. 99, March/April 1999, p.3


Legislation concerning the recycling of manufactured goods will have an unprecedented effect on industry over the next ten years. At the forefront is the proposed legislation for the European electrical and electronics industries. A second draft of the proposal for a directive on Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) was released for comment in the middle of 1998. The final proposal will be presented to the European Parliament early in 1999. Key dates are as follows:

The WEEE directive includes IT, telecoms, brown and white goods, medical equipment, lighting, monitoring and control instruments, automatic dispensing equipment and toys. The automotive industry use of electrical and electronic devices will have its own legislation.

1st draft - April 1998
2nd draft - November 1998
Presentation of proposal - early 1999
EU directive - adoption early 2000
Harmonisation of national legislations - 1999-2000
Directive enforcement - 2004

The proposed directive places significant responsibilities on producers and importers to take back and re-use or recycle their products. Detailed actions in the proposed directive include phasing out materials such as lead insolder, halogenated flame retardants, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and beryllium. These measures will have immediate impact on the industry and will alter design and manufacturing philosophy. Material identification, disassembly and recycling potential will be increasingly important.

The European electrical and electronics industry is in the vanguard for these changes. It is expected that a wide range of manufacturing industries worldwide will ultimately be affected by further legislation.

TWI is committed to help Member companies meet this 'green' legislation by providing:

  • legislation status information
  • relevant technical information
  • technical problem solving
  • R&D to address long term technical issues
  • technical workshops

The first workshop to address the specific challenges of the WEEE legislation was held in March. The second is planned for Wednesday 12 May 1999.

Currently, TWI is considering projects both in existing and innovative technologies to address issues of recycling and phasing out of prohibited materials. They will be confidential single-client projects or collaborative work under the Group Sponsored Project or EU Framework 5 funding.

Regular updates on both the proposed legislation and technical development will be published in Connect. For more information on this subject, please contact us.

For more information please email: