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Since August 2004 new EU directives for the disposal of used electrical and electronic appliances as well as the restricted use of certain hazardous substances in these devices have become effective.
All EU countries have to adopt these directives through national legislation, which will not only affect EU members but also countries which export their products to Europe. In other parts of the world, e.g. California and China, these directives have also been transformed into national regulations.
The aim of the Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive is the environmentally acceptable disposal of used electrical appliances, some of which contain hazardous components, which are increasingly being found in household waste. Among these are electric irons, food processors, electric shavers, toasters and electric tools that have a low recycling quota. The objective of WEEE is that the total amount of materials which are not suitable for substantial or thermal recycling should be strongly limited and that the recycling quota should amount to 75 % by the end of this year. A further directive, Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), on limitations of use stipulates that from July 2006, the amount of certain substances (such as lead, mercury, cadmium) and brominated flameproofing agents in new electric and electronic appliances must not exceed a defined limit.
In any case, the recyclers and disposers of electronic scrap, as well as the manufacturers of new electric appliances, will very soon be required to be able to carry out analytical determinations to demonstrate that these directives are being observed. (...)