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Castell-et-al-2004 - INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY IN EUROPE Extended...

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INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY IN EUROPE 4 Journal of Industrial Ecology http://mitpress.mit.edu/jie A camel is a horse designed by a committee . . . . What had been intended as a racehorse with clean lines has been turned into two species of camel with local breeds. 2004 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University Volume 8, Number 1–2 Extended Producer Responsibility Policy in the European Union A Horse or a Camel? Alice Castell, Roland Clift, and Chris France M ost of us know the proverb “a camel is a horse designed by a committee.” We have also heard the arguments for extended producer responsibility (EPR), which makes producers re- sponsible for their end-of-life (EOL) products so that they have an incentive to design them for dismantling, with recyclable materials and reus- able components. Economics may not encourage EOL products to be seen as assets, so legislation is needed to force take-back. At least this gets products out of the waste stream. At best, reuse and recycling reduce the need for new materials and compo- nents, so it must make sense, at least to legislators, to mandate what proportion of EOL prod- ucts are reused and recycled. A WEEE History Lesson That is the idea, the horse. But in the steps from the idea to the reality of legislation, the intent can be lost, and the horse can become a camel. Following how the European Union’s (EU’s) waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) Directive has evolved is instructive. The Directive is part of a shift in environmental legislation from processes to products that began in the early 1990s. Attention was first concen- trated on waste, with shortage of landfill capacity a driver. The Fifth Environmental Action Pro- gramme stated that “Management of waste gen- erated within the Community will be a key task of the 1990s. Current upward trends in waste generation must be halted and reversed in terms of both volumes and environmental hazard and damage.” Waste from packaging, EOL vehicles, and WEEE were subsequently identified as pri- ority waste streams. WEEE represented less than 1% of landfilled waste but was prioritized because it contains hazardous materials. Directives are agreed at the EU level but implemented by Member States, which may go about it differently. The process of developing directives also exposes tensions between dif- ferent Directorates General (DG); differences between DG Environment and DG Enter- prise are particularly common. The first draft of the WEEE Directive was published in April 1998 by DG Environment, with subsequent drafts in July 1998, July 1999, and May 2000. Some Mem- ber States had already passed their own legisla- tion; early modifications to the draft Directive aimed at harmonization with legislation in Mem- ber States. Others, such as Germany and the United Kingdom, held back to see how the Di- rective would turn out.
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