|"WEEE Man" This 21-foot-tall, three ton sculpture is made of 198 household devices, including 5 refrigerators, 35 cell phones, and 23 computer mice, representing the lifetime e-waste of the average European. Photo courtesy www.weeeman.org|
In the last 10 years, Europe has led the way in reducing the impact of throwaway technology. Here's a quick guide to new European initiatives.
- Extended Producer Responsibility:
Clean up your own mess. First, there was Germany's packaging ordinance,
which reduced waste by over a million metric tons per year and created
strong incentives to cut non-recyclable or toxic components.
- BAN: Don't trash your neighbor's yard. The EU has banned export of hazardous waste, including e-waste from Europe to developing countries.
- WEEE: Take it back.
With a target of recycling 4 kilos (8.8 pounds) of e-waste per person
each year, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
directive requires producers to design for easy recycling, repair, and
upgrades, and to take back used appliances.
- RoHS: Take out toxins. Appliance manufacturers must phase out the six most toxic manufacturing components by July 1, 2006.
- Guarantees Directive: Make it last. EU law now mandates a two-year guarantee on all electrical appliances, encouraging producers to shift away from throwaway products.