The European Union is significantly beefing up their laws regarding recycling of electronic waste, such as discarded computers and entertainment devices. Under the revised Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) legislation, member states will be required to collect more e-waste for recycling over the coming years.
While the legislation currently requires four kilograms of e-waste be recycled each year per person, by 2016, the law will require member states to recycle 45 tonnes of e-waste for every 100 tonnes put on sale three years prior. By 2019, states will be expected to collect either 65 tonnes per 100 sold, or 85 percent of all e-waste generated. Big box electronic retailers will also be required to do their part: the legislation mandates that consumers be allowed to return small items directly to the store, regardless of where they were purchased.
While the changes are being hailed as a great way to reduce possibly toxic waste while also allowing for greater recovery of the raw materials, the law has received some criticism from UK charity Computer Aid for not putting more emphasis on reusing old electronics instead of simply discarding them. The charity, which distributes refurbished secondhand technology in developing countries, had asked for the new legislation to also include a separate target for the reuse of old equipment, pointing out that most consumer electronics are replaced several years before the actual end of their useful lives.