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Electronic Retailers In Europe Now Required To Take Back Old Goods 162

Posted by timothy
from the also-you-must-never-go-bankrupt dept.
Qedward writes with this excerpt about the EU approach to E-waste: "A European Union law that will require all large electronic retailers to take back old equipment came into force yesterday. The new rules are part of a shake-up of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive and will gradually be implemented across the EU over the next seven years. Waste electrical and electronic equipment, or WEEE, is one the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, but currently only one-third of electrical and electronic waste is separately collected and appropriately treated. Systematic collection and proper treatment is essential for recycling materials like gold, silver, copper and rare metals in used TVs, laptops and mobile phones."
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Electronic Retailers In Europe Now Required To Take Back Old Goods

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  • by Viol8 (599362) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @08:03AM (#40983347)

    If manufacturers have to go to the trouble of recycling their goods they might be tempted to make them more reliable rather than having 10K TVs that died 1 day after their warranty ran out sitting in their warehouse. Or alternatively perhaps we'll go back to goods that are designed to be repaired more easily instead of being junked just because 1 capacitor blew that could be replaced for pennies.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @08:08AM (#40983397)

    If manufacturers have to go to the trouble of recycling their goods they might be tempted to make them more reliable rather than having 10K TVs that died 1 day after their warranty ran out sitting in their warehouse. Or alternatively perhaps we'll go back to goods that are designed to be repaired more easily instead of being junked just because 1 capacitor blew that could be replaced for pennies.

    Bit of both. Electronics that will die one day after the warranty runs out but consist of otherwise usable parts that can be put in a shiny case and sold as new. Training consumers to give them back all the equipment when it fails is the next step in planned obsolescence; planned obsolescence AND RESALE.

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @08:14AM (#40983459)

    We just need to recycle them. Think of the markets being created here for reclaiming technologies.

    Lets look just at indium, a LCD screen component also a "rare earth". I'm having serious difficulty figuring out the "ore value" of indium. If anyone can do any better please post.

    First of all lets not argue decimal places when I'm just trying to get a handle on orders of magnitude.

    So Indium sells for about $200/pound. The cost has been cratering as the economy has collapsed (don't give me a quote for 2007, OK) Some site claimed the cost of indium to make a monitor is about 50 cents. So each monitor contains about 1/400th a pound of indium. Or if we assume a monitor weighs 10 pounds, the monitor recycling bin at my local health food store contains "ore" around 250 ppm

    Some USGS website claims that pretty good indium ore (real ore, as in dug out of the ground) contains a couple ppm of indium. And the separation and refining process is extensive, complicate, elaborate, and expensive so you can't argue monitor recycling costs are worse.

    So a recycle bin full of monitors, treated as an "ore" is a better source of indium than any mine on earth by about two orders of magnitude. That's before you recycle the copper, tin solder, aluminum frames, and plastic case.

    Since we don't recycle LCDs for the indium, as far as I know, some numbers above must be wrong. Can anyone find the mistake?

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @08:25AM (#40983579)

    Now I might be wrong here but memory serves that in Sweden the retailers are forced to accept a return of old equipment of the same kind when you purchase a new one.

    Where I live if you sell oil you must accept returned oil. No charge, no asking for ID, no debate. They are allowed to whine and complain and try to convince you to buy stuff, but they are none the less legally required to accept oil. So yes, you can carry bottles of used motor oil to a 15-minute quick lube place, or a dealership, or service station, or even walmart, and demand they take it, and they will. Supposedly they can deny if you're "obviously" a business, so 4 quarts of 5w30 is obviously OK but I donno what happens if you walk in with multiple full 5 gallon buckets. Supposedly the amount of oil dumped in the environment has dropped to darn near zero since this was enacted decades ago. I haven't seen a oil sheen on the local river since I was a kid... so I tend to believe it.

    Can a /.er verify for me if this is a state or federal law?

  • by TheLink (130905) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:29AM (#40984383) Journal
    So what we need to do is throw stuff into really large landfills until one day there's enough to mine (or the tech improves so that it's cheap enough, or things get expensive enough so that we're desperate enough)?
  • by Viol8 (599362) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:30AM (#40984393)

    "When these companies can no longer compete with the rest of the world, they'll either move out of Europe or seek special favors from the EU politicians to help keep them afloat."

    If the rules apply to all companies why shouldn't they be able to compete? Or are you suggesting that all companies are going to suddenly stop selling all electronics in europe?

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @10:51AM (#40985363)

    Pollution per production would be a far more fair assessment here, and in that regard China is unfortunately off-scale.

    Not when you consider all the sources of pollution. A Chinese factory may emit more smoke than an American factory, but the American workers commute to the factory in 4 ton SUVs, while the Chinese workers arrive on bicycles.

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