Conflict over EU sustainability legislation
EU attempts to pass stricter environmental laws have been hotly debated in 2018. Many environmental NGO’s are upset so little progress is made. The industry claims some of the proposed legislation is unrealistic.
Tech companies must be held accountable for profiteering from short product lifespans and a “throwaway” culture, NGO’s say. They also claim necessary environmental regulations are stalled on different levels, both by influential lobby groups and by countries with a weak commitment to stricter sustainability legislation. One such example is the “ecodesign” initiative from the European Commission that has met a lot of pushback. The basic idea with “ecodesign” is to reduce the amount of e-scrap by requiring consumer electronics to be easily disassembled and reassembled and force manufacturers to make replacement parts, instructions and tools available. Environmental NGOs are in favour of EU’s “ecodesign” programme but the industry see problems and several governments are set to reject the proposals.
Another area of conflict relates to the European Commission’s initiative to reduce the amount of POP’s in electronic and electrical products. Persistent organic pollutants (POP’s) are chemical substances that persist in the environment and pose a severe risk not only to the environment but to human health. IT equipment generally contains brominated flame retardants that, according to research, affects human DNA and hormones. The European Parliament recently voted in favour of a 100-fold reduction of the threshold for Deca-BDE, which is a frequently used brominated flame retardant in IT products. EERA, the European recycling industry’s organisation, has reacted strongly and says this threshold is unrealistic. If this vote would be converted into law, claims EERA, it would be the end of the recycling of E-waste plastics in the EU, approximately a volume of 1.2 million tonnes.
Environmentalists have created the hashtag #RightToRepair to push the demand for easily repairable IT products with a longer life span. Here’s a recent video.