We can return the TV or microwave that we no longer use to the store without having to buy new ones. The same will be true for all others waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) based on the new European legislation that will come into force on 14 February 2014.
What will change in substance? Apart from the convenience for the consumer (the return will be free), the hope of those who wanted the law is to bring the tons of waste back into the official recycling circuit. WEEE which today end up in the hands of unauthorized retailers of waste materials with enormous damage to the environment and the economy.
The rule is called 'one against zero' and takes the place of the 'one against one' that is in force now: the WEEE to be thrown away no longer to get a discount on the new one but because the retailers will be the hub of recycling on behalf of the producers. There is only one exception to avoid other nuisances for small retailers: the obligation of free collection of WEEE it will only apply to commercial establishments of at least 400 square meters.
In this way, the commitment of collecting and disposing of waste from electrical and electronic equipment passes to the producers, who will have to commit themselves until 2016 to collect 45% of WEEE placed on the market to reach 65% in 2019. Forced to dispose of their waste, some producers may consider it convenient to put more durable products on the market and in this way shake off the suspicion of implementing planned obsolescence strategies.
The one against zero rule set by Europe aims above all at combating the illegal export of WEEE to non-EU countries where controls are scarce and often the safety standards necessary for hazardous waste are not respected, a category in which most of the WEEE. As mentioned, this represents an economic as well as environmental damage because i WEEE they are also an important source of precious raw materials, think of metals and rare earths contained in cell phones.
Raw materials so important as to make us look with concern at the dramatic drop in the collection of WEEE recorded in recent times by official operators, especially in reference to those categories of WEEE which in the recycling chain constitute a value and not a cost. Indeed, it is certain that it is not the purchasing crisis that is causing the decrease waste from electrical and electronic equipment but rather the clandestine market often managed by organized crime.