Interest group seeks tighter enforcement of WEEE Directive relative to refrigerants.
The RAL Quality Assurance Association for the Demanufacture of Refrigeration Equipment says it “welcomes the tightening of the WEEE Directive currently proposed by the European Commission” as a way to ensure both higher recycling rates and the responsible handling of refrigerants.
“In the opinion of the RAL Quality Assurance Association, an independent organization with headquarters in Luxembourg, definite and realistic WEEE collection and recycling rates are essential if the environmental goals of the WEEE Directive are to be achieved,” the group states in a news release.
The group also states that stricter standards are still required. “The association notes with regret, however, that the Commission’s proposals do not include binding minimum quality standards for the treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment. “
The RAL Quality Assurance Association refers to recent amendments to the EC’s WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive as “a slight tightening up of some parts of the previous text.”
Writes the group, “The specifications in the Directive regarding WEEE collection rates were highly unsatisfactory and the RAL Quality Assurance Association welcomes the fact that the Commission is now seeking to optimize the efficiency of WEEE collection systems by proposing a basic collection rate of 65 percent. RAL agrees that stipulating a specific percentage collection rate is a much better solution than the previous requirement to collect 4 kilograms of WEEE per inhabitant per year. The revised requirement is better able to take into account the actual situations in different EU member states.”
In terms of other modifications, the RAL writes, “In future, the Commission wants to see the financial responsibility that producers have for treating WEEE systematically extended to include the collection of waste equipment. RAL welcomes this step as it will also contribute to increasing WEEE collection rates.”
The RAL also desires a more ambitious timetable, writing, “The newly created Article 7(4) specifies a deadline for the introduction of a special collection rate for waste refrigeration and freezer appliances. In the opinion of the RAL Quality Assurance Association this date has been set too far in the future. Adopting a collection rate of only 65 percent for waste refrigeration equipment is absolutely unacceptable, given that an average European fridge effectively releases on the order of 3,000 kilograms of CO2 into the atmosphere if the CFCs it contains are not retrieved and safely destroyed.”
Another complaint from the RAL concerns recommendations versus requirements. “The RAL Quality Assurance Association is also particularly critical of the fact that the setting up of minimum quality standards is still not a binding requirement, but remains something that member states can implement at their discretion. RAL assumes that in future, EU member states will be making a greater effort to honor their obligations to protect the Earth’s climate and ozone layer than has been the case up until now.”
The group summarizes its position by writing, “All in all, the RAL Quality Assurance Association welcomes the proposed amendments to the WEEE Directive. In those areas where the European Commission has been less rigorous (minimum quality standards, definite deadline for collection rates for waste refrigeration equipment), the onus now lies with the member states themselves to adapt their national laws and regulations to ensure the systematic implementation of environmentally sound fridge recycling practices, as has been the case for many years in, for example, Austria.”
Those seeking more information on the RAL and its views can go to www.ral-online.org on the Web.