10 December 2023

The upcoming review of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive is a key milestone in aligning technology with the principles of environmental sustainability and the circular economy. This review opens the door to an extensive dialogue aimed at reducing electronic waste and encouraging the adoption of innovative recycling technologies. Roza Thun MEP hosted a breakfast discussion on the WEEE Directive, featuring the following experts:

Mattia Pellegrini, Head of Unit ‘From Waste to Resources’, DG ENV, European Commission
Jean Cox-Kearns, Product End of Life Management Engineer, Lenovo
Valerio Ottati, EU Public Affairs Director, Huawei
Pary Arpoudam, Head of Reverse Logistics Domain, Orange
Fanny Rateau, Programme Manager, Environmental Coalition on Standards

Tech and Circular Economy: Perspectives on the WEEE Directive Review

Roza Thun MEP began the event by focusing on the urgent need for revising the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, citing alarming data on the growth of e-waste in the EU. She noted that the number of electronics on the EU market had increased by over 85% between 2013 and 2021, leading to significant e-waste challenges. MEP Thun highlighted the importance of the directive's revision to better manage e-waste and meet the EU's environmental targets.

Mattia Pellegrini focused on the complexities of managing electronic waste in the EU and the legislative efforts of his unit, particularly regarding the revision of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. He discussed the challenges in harmonizing standards across EU states and the need for specific measures for the recovery and recycling of critical raw materials, drawing parallels with the batteries regulation. Mr Pellegrini emphasized the importance of a thorough evaluation of the directive to understand its limitations and the reasons behind unmet targets. His speech concluded with an emphasis on the value of stakeholder feedback in shaping the future of the directive.

Jean Cox-Kearns shared insights into Lenovo's journey towards sustainability, including their commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050. She detailed Lenovo's approach to incorporating sustainability across their value chain, from product design to manufacturing and recycling. Ms Cox-Kearns stressed the importance of designing products for sustainability and the role of circular economy principles in transforming waste into a resource.

Valerio Ottati highlighted three key areas: product repairability, recycling and reuse, and eco-design. He advocated for a stronger repair culture and better recycling practices. Mr Ottati also noted Huawei's efforts in implementing risk substance controls beyond required laws and the establishment of strict design requirements for product longevity and repairability.

Pary Arpoudam addressed the challenges in managing e-waste within Orange Group. He emphasized the importance of efficient waste policy, reuse, and refurbishment of electronic devices, and the need for accurate documentation in compliance with e-waste regulations. Mr Arpoudam also discussed the lack of harmonization in e-waste collection and the need for a better definition of extended producer responsibility.

Fanny Rateau provided an NGO perspective, focusing on eco-design, waste management, and resource extraction. She stressed the importance of designing electronic products to be longer-lasting, repairable, and energy-efficient. Ms Rateau also advocated for better consumer information and harmonized collection rules across the EU to effectively manage and prevent e-waste.