More than 500 million European citizens create massive amounts of electronic waste, while waste storage capacity is being depleted.
Under the environmental law for treatment of electrical and electronic equipment and batteries, any manufacturer or importer of electrical and electronic equipment or batteries, is responsible for recycling the electrical and electronic equipment sold, even if it will come out of use after many years. The environmental legislation established mechanisms requiring annual reports, employing of recognized bodies for those tasks and many other duties. Breach of these obligations can lead to the imposition of significant monetary sanctions as well as the submission of indictments for violation of orders.
This legislation of 2012, follows the global trend of legislation regulating the handling of electronic waste.
Electronic waste legislation in Europe
In 2003, in view of the sharp increase in the flow of e-waste in the European Union, the cluster of directives - WEEE 2002/93 / EC which deals with the collection and recycling of electrical and electronic waste was accepted. The WEEE Directives' aims:
- reduce the amount of electronic waste directed to landfills;
- increase the percentage of recycling of e-waste;
The WEEE directives - and the EU RoHS, as well as following statutes in international environmental law such as the "WEEE / RoHS Korea" or "China RoHS" present a new approach. Unlike traditional approaches to environmental law, which used the approach of command-and-control followed by the imposition of penalties and fines, the new approach focuses on expanding the manufacturer's warranty ranging from product design, to find a solution for its removal based on the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility. Use of this principle consists an incentive for manufacturers to invest in product development while also thinking about the manner of disposal and recycling of the product, after the end of its life, as part of the overall environmental conception.
In order to prevent the formation of dangerous electrical waste and electronic equipment, the -RoHS Directive 2002/95 / EC deals with the imposition of restrictions on the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of electric and electronic devices covered by the Directive - WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment).
The -RoHS Directive constitutes an obstacle - which can be overcome. Manufacturers initially were concerned that they would have to close production lines due to a lack of RoHS compliant components or due to a lack of appropriate spare parts which are RoHS compliant.
Critical processes that lead to overcoming the RoHS barrier and reaching compliance with the provisions of environmental regulations and the European environmental law are the commitment of the management, the stage of recruiting professional staff and the characterization of a clear strategy of management and environmental commitment of the corporation in reference to the provisions and exclusions of the Directives from the early stage of product design.
Electronic waste legislation in China
After the European Union has restricted the use of three hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment as part of the RoHS Directives, China also has enacted a similar law in 2006 in order to prevent the formation of electronic waste. The Administrative Measure on the Control of Pollution Caused by Electronic Information products applies to devices manufactured after March 2007. The term "electronic communication devices" does not refer only to devices that use or are used by the media, but to electrical and electronic equipment in its broadest sense. The legislation should be understood and implemented by a number of standards to which it refers.
RoHS China adopted a two-stage approach: in the first stage, the manufacturer of electric or electronic devices is required to mark the product label which shows if the product contains more than the allowed values established for six substances that have been defined (the same materials set out in the Directives of European RoHS) and if the product is recyclable. In addition, the legislation requires the marking of packaging. In the second phase, the use of those hazardous materials will be limited.
More information on the RoHS China legislation can be found in the guide written by our office for the Ministry of Industry and published in November 2007.
Electronic waste legislation in Korea
Korea included four early European statutes in its own law on recyclable appliances, electronic devices and used cars: the Directive for recycling electrical and electronic waste (WEEE Directive), the Directive that imposes restrictions on the use of hazardous substances in certain electrical appliances and electronic equipment (RoHS Directive), the Directive which deals with the treatment of not usable vehicles (ELV Directive) and the Directive dealing with the designing of products according to sustainable principles while saving energy (EuP Directvie). In addition, the Korean legislation adopted the principle accepted in the European counterpart, which imposes great responsibility on the manufacturer (Extended Producer Responsibility) after the end of product life. Using this environmental principle consists an incentive for manufacturers to invest in product development while also thinking about the manner of disposal and recycling of the product, after the end of its life.
In order to keep up in compliance with the Korean law under the relevant environmental laws, management commitment, a professional leadership team and a clear strategy for management of the Corporation's environmental commitment regarding the product throughout the whole production chain are needed.
We are working for many years in the field of electronic waste and are very familiar with the issue from both its technological and its legal aspect. In this particular domain legal scientific advice is crucial, and without such interdisciplinary integration it becomes very difficult to find your way around and reach correct legal conclusions.
With regard to the law of e-waste in Israel, we advise companies regarding their classification according to the law, giving advice about the exemptions that apply to companies, and support the companies when signing agreements with approved entities, and in implementing the law.
With regard to electronic waste legislation of foreign law, we assist Israeli companies that export to Europe or Asia, or who want to examine the contents of the legislation and its impact on future export activities as follows:
- feasibility study regarding the applicability of the provisions of the relevant environmental legislation on their product;
- Legal analysis of existing exclusions in the provisions of environmental legislation relevant to the product under test;
- Development of the strategy for the Company's compliance with the provisions of the relevant environmental legislation, preparation of forms and correspondence to vendors and other parties in the production chain;
- monitoring and update on developments of relevant provisions in the specific environmental legislation, and in environmental regulation and environmental laws in Europe in general;
Companies that export goods without preliminary compatibility tests, should take into consideration their being exposed to the following risks:
- products may be banned from entering the country;
- products' sales may be delayed in the country;
- damage to reputation;
- loss of markets;
- breach of contracts;
- facing criminal punitive measures;We shall be glad to meet with you for an initial consultation, to reduce your company's exposure to these risks, and deliver you safely over the hurdle of exporting products to Europe or Asia in accordance with the relevant legislative requirements, international environmental law and environmental regulations in Europe and the world.