The WEEE directive - the EU Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment - will be implemented across Europe over the next 12 months. With just a few exceptions, electrical consumer goods that are at the end of their life will need to be taken back, dismantled and recycled. Up until now most of these goods were simply thrown away with the majority ending up in a landfill site.
The way the scheme will work will vary from one European country to another. In general though, producers, wholesalers and retailers will be given the responsibility of operating, or paying for, the take-back scheme.
The products that will be most severely affected are those containing parts that are hard or impossible to recycle or those that contain dangerous substances (another European directive covers this aspect). In addition, products with limited or no serviceability will be more vulnerable as their life cannot be extended by repairing or fitting spare parts.
Products that will benefit are those with opposite attributes, where there are no dangerous substances and where spare parts can be fitted in order to prolong the life of the product. Mark my words, Europe will see the return of the repair shop, a vibrant second-hand (previously owned) electrical goods market (I can see E-Bay getting even busier!) and an increase in the availability of spares.
In affluent societies we have found it convenient to buy a new product and toss it away when it malfunctions or simply when a new model comes along. At the same time products have been made to ever lower specifications and in many cases have been designed to have a limited lifetime. Which of these trends came first may be debatable, but it is certain that they feed each other. Perhaps it's down to the marketing men who urge us to buy a new this and a new that.
By scanning the horizon of existing products there are some that are still built to last, where most parts are serviceable and where there are no dangerous substances. Insectocutor Fly Killers sold by Arkay Hygiene come into this category (with the exception of the uv lamps, which will probably be subject to RoHS regulations). Insectocutor fly killers are built to the highest specification - predominantly from steel instead of plastic - and are built to last.
I would advise consumers, retailers and producers alike to think about the implications of a world where products are increasingly made good and where the option to throw them away is restricted. These regulations may be neatly encapsulated in a European directive, but it should be noted that the U. S. are developing similar regulations (a mixture of federal and state laws), as are many other countries.
Vernon Stent is a marketing consultant for Arkay Hygiene. More information about the WEEE Directive can be seen at http://www.5es.co.uk . Here is an example of a spare part for Insectocutor Fly Killers, a PTFE Insulator