The European Parliament this week approved legislation that will require electronics makers to take back their products--including computers and consumer electronics--at the end of their useful life. The legislation requires that each manufacturer pay for the costs associated with its own products but allows that waste collection systems may be set up individually or collectively. It also requires that "electroscrap" be collected separately from other household waste and increases the amount to be collected annually by 50 percent, to an average of 13 pounds per person.
The legislation now goes to the Council of the European Union, which is expected to adopt the proposal in June. At that point, EU member states will have to start transposing it into national legislation. The EU action is the most significant example of governments worldwide moving to tackle pollution from obsolete electronics. In the United States, companies such as IBM, Sony and Best Buy have recently launched reuse and recycle programs aimed at consumers.