The WEEE Forum President, Jan Vlak, addressed the event and noted that the current situation is that most Member States of the EU are not on target to meet the 65% WEEE collection mark. Illegal practices, such as scavenging, give rise to loss of valuable raw materials and the release of hazardous substances into the environment. In fact, up to two thirds of WEEE is not being reported as properly collected and treated. The EN 50625 standards for WEEE treatment, a reference for the industry, address those challenges. Mr Vlak stressed that, in order to create a truly level playing field in the EU, compliance with EN 50625 should be made mandatory for all WEEE treatment facilities in the EU. Treatment of WEEE outside the EU should take place in conditions that are equivalent to those applicable in the EU.
Mark Demesmaeker, Belgian Member of the European Parliament working on implementing the circular economy in Europe, agreed with Mr Vlak’s statement and added that it is time for an implementing act towards binding WEEE standards. This call to action towards the European Commission, as mandated by Article 8.5 of Directive 2012/19/EU, is based on the importance of quality standards and the need to avoid distorting recycling markets and hindering private investments in the field of recovery of (critical) raw materials.
Several Member States, such as the Netherlands, Ireland and France, have made the standards legally binding and put the responsibility of compliance in the sector on the whole ecosystem and e-waste value chain. Those markets now benefit from legally enforced uniformity with equal requirements across the sector.