February 3, 2011 / 8:20 PM / in 7 years

EU lawmakers seek stricter rules for electronic waste

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Parliament proposed stricter rules on Thursday to halt what has become Europe’s fastest growing type of waste: discarded mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices.

European Union lawmakers said they wanted member states to collect at least 85 percent of discarded electronics by 2016, compared with only 33 percent today.

Under the proposed new rules, electronics producers will be expected to foot the bill for collecting discarded appliances.

Karl-Heinz Florenz, a German parliament member who drafted the text adopted on Thursday, said the 85 percent target was challenging but realistic.

Florenz said there were more than 8 million metric tons of waste electronics in the EU in 2005, about 20 kilograms per EU citizen. This total is expected to grow to 12.3 million metric tons by 2020.

The EU is concerned that if not properly disposed of, the electronics, much of which contains toxic metals and compounds, could cause health problems and harm the environment.

Many used electronics are also illegally shipped overseas for disposal, meaning sought after raw materials such as gold and rare earth minerals leave the EU.

The measures still require the approval of the European Council, which is scheduled to debate the issue in March.

Editing by Bate Felix and David Holmes

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