Bulgarian government criticised for failing to comply with EC electronic waste law

BusinessSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 5/2006

Household appliance makers voice objections through new association

At the founding meeting of “CECED Bulgaria” in the end of August 2006 in Sofia, representatives of household appliance manufacturers[1] strongly criticised the Bulgarian government for not complying with the EU Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE Directive).

The new industry association is determined in its opposition to the disproportionate product fees that are payable on its products entering Bulgaria or being placed on the market there, as well as to the fixed and unrealistic collection targets set. These measures are being put forward by the Bulgarian government in the context of its implementation of the WEEE Directive[2] ahead of the country’s full accession to the EU.

“It is clear that the Bulgarian law is not in conformity with the European Directive”, explains Pascal Leroy of Brussels-based umbrella association CECED[3]. “Manufacturers strongly object to unrealistic targets and disproportionate product fees. To set targets that are impossible to achieve is senseless. The Directive lays down that the obligation of companies should be to collect and treat all discarded products. Product fees are needed and should be set to discourage free riding but must reflect reasonable costs of collection, storage and treatment of WEEE.”

“The government has produced a most inadequate legislative instrument”, says the Association’s WEEE spokeswoman, Alena Georgieva of Indesit Company, one of the founding members of CECED Bulgaria. “There is no WEEE collection infrastructure in place, the government has failed to work out a proper implementation plan, and industry sectors have not been involved in the preparation of the law. It is simply not possible to oblige producers to handle WEEE from 1 September 2006.” Mr. Leroy adds: “We are confident that the European Commission will reprimand Bulgaria for failing to comply with the Directive when it issues its status report on 26 September if the law enters into force unamended and without a satisfactory implementation plan to support it.”

CECED Bulgaria urges the government to suspend the legislation until such time as an implementation plan has been properly developed so that the environmental objectives of the WEEE Directive can be achieved. In the meantime, there should be no application of product fees. Finally, once revised legislation is passed, any product fees to be collected should be dedicated to satisfying WEEE waste management goals. They should reflect the reasonable costs of collection, storage and treatment of WEEE.

CECED Bulgaria calls on the government to open a constructive dialogue with the all the industry stakeholders, mainly major and small domestic appliances, lighting, consumer electronics and ICT products.

In the coming weeks and months, CECED Bulgaria will consolidate its legal statutes and structure.

[1] Founding members: Amica, BSH, Electrolux, Gorenje, Indesit Company, Liebherr, Philips and Whirlpool.

[2] Bulgarian transposition of Directive 2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). The law entered into force on 1 July 2006 but was postponed until 1 September 2006 due to lack of preparation. It requires municipalities to set up collection centers and the payment by importers and manufacturers of a product fee to the government upon placement onto the Bulgarian market.

[3] CECED represents the household appliance industry in Europe. Its member companies employ over 200,000 people, are mainly based in Europe, and have a turnover of about Ђ40 billion. If upstream and downstream business is taken together, the sector employs over 500,000 people. Direct Members are Arзelik, BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgerдte, Candy Group, De’Longhi, Electrolux Holdings, Fagor, Gorenje, Liebherr, Indesit Company, Miele, Philips, SEB and Whirlpool Europe. CECED’s member associations cover the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

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