EU zakonodavstvo
20. September 2023.
Opis (tag)
Reducing problems for consumers and solving the problem of e-waste

Agreement on a common charger and better information and choice for consumers

Consumers will soon be able to use one charger for all their portable electronic devices in the EU. USB Type-C will become a common charging port by autumn 2024, Parliament and Council negotiators agreed in June 2022. The law establishing a single solution for charging certain electronic devices is part of the EU’s wider efforts to make products in the EU more sustainable, to reduce electronic waste and to make life easier for consumers. You can watch the press conference here.

According to the new rules, consumers will no longer need different charging devices and cables if they buy a new product and will be able to use one charger for their electronic devices. Regardless of producer, all mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, handheld video game consoles, and portable speakers that charge via a wired cable will need to have a USB Type-C port. The charging speed is also harmonized, allowing consumers to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger. Laptops will also have to conform to the requirements for up to 40 months after the entry into force.

  • One charger for frequently used small and medium portable electronic devices
  • Charging speed adjusted for devices that support fast charging
  • Consumers can choose whether they want to buy a new device with or without a charger

Clear information about the charging characteristics of new devices will be made available to consumers, making it easier to check the compatibility of their existing chargers.

The new obligations will lead to greater reuse and consumer savings of 250 million euros per year on purchases of unnecessary chargers. In addition, it is estimated that discarded and unused chargers represent 11,000 tons of e-waste per year!

Almost half of the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in Europe is not properly collected and recycled

The WEEE Directive requires member states to collect 85% of all WEEE produced. Public data on WEEE is not always available, but there is good data on officially collected and recycled WEEE which is documented by Member States when they report on their progress towards the WEEE Directive targets. WEEE collection and recycling targets based only on reported e-waste streams ignore the huge recovery potential of valuable materials such as cobalt, gold and copper, in undeclared streams. For this reason, policy makers, compliance and recycling programs need reliable figures to effectively manage this waste.

However, little is known about the flow of undeclared WEEE through society, whether it is recycled, disposed of or exported. Much WEEE flies under the radar as consumers often dispose of it in household waste or it is mixed into mixed metal waste streams where it is recycled, but not under WEEE compliant conditions. In addition, large amounts of WEEE are disposed of by being scrapped for parts before being officially collected or exported abroad, both legally and illegally.

EU research results suggest that 30 countries (all current member states, Norway, Switzerland and the UK) discarded approximately 9.7 million tonnes of WEEE, both declared and undeclared, in 2018. Slightly more than half, 5 Mt, was reported by member states.

Of the undeclared WEEE, it was estimated that 12% (1.12 Mt) was recycled under non-compliant conditions as part of mixed metal waste. A further 7% (0.64 Mt) was extracted for valuable components, 6% (0.6 Mt) was disposed of as household waste, and 3% (0.29 Mt) was legally exported. The remaining 21% (2.09 Mt) is missing and could be illegally exported.

Why are changes important? The amount of WEEE in Europe is growing and will continue to grow

In 2019, 12 Mt of WEEE was produced in the EU, which corresponds to 16.2 kg per person. Consumers should be given more incentives to recycle their old products. In addition to monetary benefits, they should be offered information about product sustainability to encourage product reuse and repair. This will achieve sustainable thinking, changes in purchasing and the adoption of the principles and practices of the circular economy. It is very effective to design products that are easier to recycle.

As wireless charging technology becomes more and more prevalent, the European Commission will be authorized to develop delegated acts on the interoperability of charging solutions. In addition, legal frameworks need to be strengthened to prevent illegal exports and investments in recycling technologies are needed. Accordingly, the emphasis is on designing and evaluating effective WEEE management measures.

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Photo: Solen Feyissa on unsplash

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