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Electronic Retailers In Europe Now Required To Take Back Old Goods

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the also-you-must-never-go-bankrupt dept.

Businesses 162

Qedward writes with this excerpt about the EU approach to E-waste: "A European Union law that will require all large electronic retailers to take back old equipment came into force yesterday. The new rules are part of a shake-up of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive and will gradually be implemented across the EU over the next seven years. Waste electrical and electronic equipment, or WEEE, is one the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, but currently only one-third of electrical and electronic waste is separately collected and appropriately treated. Systematic collection and proper treatment is essential for recycling materials like gold, silver, copper and rare metals in used TVs, laptops and mobile phones."

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Yeah but (0)

rullywowr (1831632) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983241)

Who needs to upgrade? 64k ought to be enough for anybody.

This will be sure to help (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983273)

all those businesses in Greece.

Re:This will be sure to help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983513)

The financial crisis in Europe really is a convenient distraction from your own domestic challenges, isn't it?

All our resources are still here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983317)

We just need to recycle them. Think of the markets being created here for reclaiming technologies.

Re:All our resources are still here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983339)

We just need to recycle them. Think of the markets being created here for reclaiming technologies.

As long as the fucking Chinese have a stranglehold on most of the rare-earth production then we're stupid not to recycle what we have.

Unless you really believe being beholden to and dependent on a foreign nation that really doesn't like us is a great idea. It's a bad idea. It's bad for national security and it makes no sense.

Re:All our resources are still here (5, Informative)

JDG1980 (2438906) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983407)

As long as the fucking Chinese have a stranglehold on most of the rare-earth production then we're stupid not to recycle what we have.

Contrary to what the name implies, rare-earth metals actually aren't that rare. They are just found in very low concentrations, which means that refining them is energy-expensive and environmentally unfriendly. This is why most production takes place in China: they run coal-fired power plants (with lots of cheap coal to run them) and don't give a crap about the environment. We could refine rare-earth metals in the US or European Union from domestic ore supplies, but it would be much more expensive because the production would have to be compliant with worker safety and environmental protection standards. Should a true emergency situation arise, we could make ends meet.

Re:All our resources are still here (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983543)

Contrary to what the name implies, rare-earth metals actually aren't that rare. They are just found in very low concentrations, which means that refining them is energy-expensive and environmentally unfriendly. This is why most production takes place in China:

Do you understand the difference between "rare-earth production" (y'know that thing I said) versus "rare-earth raw materials"?

There is a reason I said one and not the other. But thank you for playing.

Basic reading comprehension is definitely on the decline.

Re:All our resources are still here (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983811)

Basic reading comprehension is definitely on the decline.

Yeah, but who would read Basic these days anyway? You should care more about the Python reading comprehension. :-)

Re:All our resources are still here (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984179)

He obviously didn't think what you said was clear enough and he chose to add to it. Your bulldog attitude and your lack of detail (also a communication problem) are why his post got +5 and yours stayed at 0. His is the one with the actual information in it, and the more correct opinion (that if we couldn't get the materials from china, we could always make them here). In short, I can understand your frustration, but it's completely misplaced. Finish your thought and you won't have that problem next time.

Re:All our resources are still here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40985379)

Do you understand the difference between "rare-earth production" (y'know that thing I said) versus "rare-earth raw materials"?

Yes, it's clear from JDG1980's post that he understands this distinction. Maybe you are the one who is lacking in basic reading comprehension?

There is a reason I said one and not the other. But thank you for playing.

He had no way of knowing that. It seems entirely reasonable to believe someone might have written your post word-for-word without knowing that we could ramp up rare-earth production in the US/EU if we so desired. In fact, I was not aware of this myself, so his post was valuable to me. The knowledge that we could ramp up production certainly weakens your argument about being "beholden to and dependent on a foreign nation", so I can see why he might have thought you didn't know this either.

Basic reading comprehension is definitely on the decline.

That's a complete non sequitur, as JDG1980's reading comprehension is fine. Fellow slashdotters read your posts, not your mind. Consider focusing on your own communication skills, as well as your anger management...

Re:All our resources are still here (3, Informative)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984633)

Yup. Most rare earth minerals came from the Mountain Pass mine in southern California, until the Chinese priced them almost out of the market in the 1990s.

Re:All our resources are still here (5, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984815)

Yup. Most rare earth minerals came from the Mountain Pass mine in southern California, until the Chinese priced them almost out of the market in the 1990s.

Then the Chinese raised their prices, and the Mountain Pass Mine [wikipedia.org] reopened and is due to reach full production latter this year.

Re:All our resources are still here (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984859)

and don't give a crap about the environment.

On a per-capita basis, China produces about one quarter the pollution that the USA produces.

Re:All our resources are still here (3, Informative)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#40985035)

While true, that is because of level of life of average citizen as well as significant amount of people living in extreme poverty in China.

Pollution per production would be a far more fair assessment here, and in that regard China is unfortunately off-scale.

Re:All our resources are still here (3, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40985363)

Pollution per production would be a far more fair assessment here, and in that regard China is unfortunately off-scale.

Not when you consider all the sources of pollution. A Chinese factory may emit more smoke than an American factory, but the American workers commute to the factory in 4 ton SUVs, while the Chinese workers arrive on bicycles.

Re:All our resources are still here (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983409)

I'm not sure you can make the argument they have a stranglehold. Some estimates are that China has 95% of the world's rare earth metals on land, so unless you expect China to give away land to other countries, it really can't be faulted for having almost all of them.

But you could always get them from the bottom of the ocean, at considerable expense.

Re:All our resources are still here (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40985431)

Some estimates are that China has 95% of the world's rare earth metals on land,

I love factoids like this. Logically, it is almost certainly true, since "some estimates" can mean almost anything, while the underlying implication is complete nonsense (China has no where near 95% of economically viable rare earth ores).

Re:All our resources are still here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40985149)

If they are so valuable then don't toss them into the dump when you are done

Re:All our resources are still here (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983459)

We just need to recycle them. Think of the markets being created here for reclaiming technologies.

Lets look just at indium, a LCD screen component also a "rare earth". I'm having serious difficulty figuring out the "ore value" of indium. If anyone can do any better please post.

First of all lets not argue decimal places when I'm just trying to get a handle on orders of magnitude.

So Indium sells for about $200/pound. The cost has been cratering as the economy has collapsed (don't give me a quote for 2007, OK) Some site claimed the cost of indium to make a monitor is about 50 cents. So each monitor contains about 1/400th a pound of indium. Or if we assume a monitor weighs 10 pounds, the monitor recycling bin at my local health food store contains "ore" around 250 ppm

Some USGS website claims that pretty good indium ore (real ore, as in dug out of the ground) contains a couple ppm of indium. And the separation and refining process is extensive, complicate, elaborate, and expensive so you can't argue monitor recycling costs are worse.

So a recycle bin full of monitors, treated as an "ore" is a better source of indium than any mine on earth by about two orders of magnitude. That's before you recycle the copper, tin solder, aluminum frames, and plastic case.

Since we don't recycle LCDs for the indium, as far as I know, some numbers above must be wrong. Can anyone find the mistake?

Re:All our resources are still here (0)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983609)

Can anyone find the mistake?

LCDs are so 2008. Is there any indium in LED monitors?

Re:All our resources are still here (5, Informative)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983859)

Can anyone find the mistake?

LCDs are so 2008. Is there any indium in LED monitors?

With the exception of a couple of OLED smartphones, 'LED' monitors and TV sets *are* LCD. The 'LED' part is the backlight, instead of fluorescent tubes.

Re:All our resources are still here (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983917)

LCDs are so 2008. Is there any indium in LED monitors?

Indium "wets" glass so any screen with LCD pixel elements uses indium as some form of mask/plate/wiring. I'm not involved enough to know further details. Its not in the florescent tubes or LED or whatever your LCD screen uses for illumination. Even a reflective non-backlit display like an old fashioned wristwatch from the 80s would still have indium... I think.

From a marketing perspective LCDs with LEDs used to backlight seem to be marketed as "LED" whereas monitors using individual LEDs as pixels are marketed as "OLED" so a LED monitor uses indium but a OLED monitor probably does not.

Everything I've read about OLED is it really sucks, low res, short lifetime, UV fading, extreme cost. Maybe someday it'll be competitive and no one will use indum anymore.

Re:All our resources are still here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984121)

Yes. The indium is part of the grid of electrodes deposited on the glass of the panel. It's in the form of indium-tin oxide [wikipedia.org] . It has nothing to do with the backlight.

Re:All our resources are still here (4, Informative)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983615)

I think your assumption that it must be "easier" to get the ore out of a monitor than a raw material is probably very false.

Indium in what form? How processed? Combined with what? Integrated into what component? It's used to form electrodes in LCD screens, but does that mean that each pixel has a coating of it three-or-four coatings deep? And only covering that pixel? How many pixels on the screen to deconstruct to get to that? How much per pixel versus much work? What if it's in a form that now requires more energy to separate it (e.g. rust contains iron and oxygen, but you don't see a market for your old rust)? What if it's next to and mixed with other chemicals that you can't filter without health hazards, or where your process has to sacrifice one for the other?

All things that wouldn't affect raw-ore refining (Who cares what happens to the other rock in the ore? Almost certainly indium will be found among heaps of junk that's easily dissolved in acid and then disposed of etc.).

It's also a bit like "uncooking" food. Yeah, my cake has eggs in it. You can try to take the eggs out after I've baked it if you like. The collatoral damage, energy, precision, processing and just sheer time involved mean that it's just not worth it.

Now if we're talking discrete components, e.g. a PCB track made of gold or copper, or a magnet in a hard drive, then you can just extract those components, burn the residue and get some value if the raw material is valuable enough. Like people stealing catalytic converters for their platinum. Who cares about what else is there, the platinum alone is easily extractable and worth the effort.

Just because it says "indium", it doesn't mean "raw indium, in the same format as it was dug out of the earth in." And, as you point out, even extracting from 1ppm is extensive, complicated, elaborate and expensive when you don't CARE about what else is in the rock and you're not paying for the rock. Just multiplying it up by even 250 doesn't mean it's any easier to extract than from the raw ore.

By the same token, extracting gold from seawater should be incredibly easy and profitable. It isn't. Because gold ore is much nicer to handle and extract. Just because it's "1ppm" doesn't even mean it's spread as dust throughout vast rock formation. It might meant just that you have to dig up a mountain to find one block of it in a lump (e.g. diamonds, gold, etc.)

Re:All our resources are still here (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984233)

Screw it...I just set them out with the rest of the trash.

If someone doesn't come in the night and grab it (usually happens, there must be tons of dumpster divers in the NOLA area)...then, the garbage man conveniently hauls it away for me, and I have room to buy new stuff.

But seriously, I've almost never had an old computer or monitor (even the old, broken 21" Sun CRTs I used to have) ever last in the trash piled out front long enough for the trash guys to get. I guess you could call that a form of recycling.

Re:All our resources are still here (2)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983787)

it would be easier IF you could find a mountain of monitors stacked in a pile. then I'm sure it would be cheap and easy enough to take them with a truck to a separation line.

Re:All our resources are still here (2)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983831)

The problem with recycling electronics is first that the process to remove the metals from the recycled oar will be different then getting the material from the ground, the cost to refine those materials is more expensive. It's no so simple to say just refine the precious metals from the pile of waste the refining process of one material might make refining the waste from another impossible so pulling out the gold and indium may not be possible. Then there are the environmental concerns too these products contain lead, arsenic, and mercury that must be handled properly along with the chemicals needed to refine the metals you have a lot of costs in managing the toxic chemicals. A material is only called oar if it can be mined and refined for a profit, it may well be that the electronics waste are considered oar for only one or two of the metals and that the waste from the 1st round of recycling has caused the material to no longer be considered oar.

Re:All our resources are still here (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | more than 2 years ago | (#40985295)

oar != ore

Re:All our resources are still here (2)

noh8rz7 (2706405) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983903)

Yeah but you can go to your indium mine and extract 100 million tons of ore tomorrow. As opposed to monitors, where you need to collect each monitor and ship it to whatever processing plant on palates. Much worse economies of scale!

Re:All our resources are still here (3, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984383)

So what we need to do is throw stuff into really large landfills until one day there's enough to mine (or the tech improves so that it's cheap enough, or things get expensive enough so that we're desperate enough)?

Re:All our resources are still here (1)

noh8rz7 (2706405) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984525)

i'm not sure if you're trying to be snarky or not, but umm... yes, that's a good solution. to the extent that we can disaggregate the landfills into different piles, the better. bonus points if the landfills are in africa.

Re:All our resources are still here (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984849)

So it is economically worthwhile for the west to recycle these thngs for these expensive atoms. Fair enough.

Why hasn't some greedy capitalist taken advantage of this if it is truly profitable? Why does there need to be a law?

No disasterbatory haterages of capitalism, please. Real observations only. Why?

WEEED (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984237)

Brought to you by Bill and Ben, The Flowerpot Men!

Perhaps stuff might last longer now (5, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983347)

If manufacturers have to go to the trouble of recycling their goods they might be tempted to make them more reliable rather than having 10K TVs that died 1 day after their warranty ran out sitting in their warehouse. Or alternatively perhaps we'll go back to goods that are designed to be repaired more easily instead of being junked just because 1 capacitor blew that could be replaced for pennies.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983397)

If manufacturers have to go to the trouble of recycling their goods they might be tempted to make them more reliable rather than having 10K TVs that died 1 day after their warranty ran out sitting in their warehouse. Or alternatively perhaps we'll go back to goods that are designed to be repaired more easily instead of being junked just because 1 capacitor blew that could be replaced for pennies.

Bit of both. Electronics that will die one day after the warranty runs out but consist of otherwise usable parts that can be put in a shiny case and sold as new. Training consumers to give them back all the equipment when it fails is the next step in planned obsolescence; planned obsolescence AND RESALE.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40985287)

BTW when my stuff does eventually die, I dispose of it through selling on ebay. There's always someone who is a hacker who wants to either repair it to restore functionality, or use it for parts.

And also: I thought the EU Parliament does not pass laws? The summary calls this a "law" but Europeans on /. always claim the EU does not have that power. Only the States can pass laws. (confuseD)

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (2)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 2 years ago | (#40985383)

I believe that would require a lot more standardization and designing for reusabilty than what is common today.

I'm one of those guys who like to tinker with old electronics, and what I get to see is a wild jumble of one-off designs that are made to fit one particular device, but have little chance of fitting into next year's model.
There is one notable exception. The computer industry (in particular desktop parts) has mostly exchangable parts, and except for stuff getting obsolete, many parts could in fact be reused and resold. But guess what:
Technically inclined consumers wordwide understand this, and tend to reuse stuff themselves. That even happens in some companies. At my current place of work, old computers go to the dumpster minus their RAM. So someone collects those things. Either one of the IT guys is running a business with used parts on the side, or the company must be sitting of many gigabytes of old DDR1 RAM ;-)

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983405)

"If manufacturers have to go to the trouble of recycling their goods they might be tempted to make them more reliable"

How is this logical? State mandated processing of waste will be taken as a cost and passed on to the consumer, like it always is. Why do you believe this legislation will somehow change the fundamentals of economics?

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983589)

Since charging the customer when the customer returns the item would be illegal, they would have to add the cost to the price of items when initially bought. Most likely the recycling cost would be spread across all the range of items, regardless of durability.

Wouldn't this make the long-term profit on more durable items larger?

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983681)

Producing a quality product that will last a long time usually costs more money - and there is a market for these types of products. Of course mandated recycling costs will be built in to the base product and the manufacturer will seek ways to make this recycling more efficient whenever possible.

However none of that changes the motivation of the producer - to sell product, and high quality expensive products and the exception not the norm. Cheaply made failure prone products encourage customers to purchase more of them. Mandated recycling costs will again be built in to the base product and the manufacturer will seek ways to make this recycling more efficient whenever possible.

I fail to see how any of this leads to 'long-term profit on more durable items larger'.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984195)

I fail to see how any of this leads to 'long-term profit on more durable items larger'.

It's not a guarantee, but consider the following two scenarios:

1) You own a business selling cheaply made electro-widget for price $X. New law gets passed mandating that you must bear costs of recycling. So you figure out, based on predicted lifetime of your widget, the steady-state recycling costs will be $A per widget. So you increase the price of your widget to be $Y = $X+$A, all the while maintaining the same cheap quality

2) I own a similar business at that same price point and quality of $X. New law gets passed mandating that I must bear the costs of recycling. But I determine that I can increase the quality and lifetime of my product by increasing its cost by $B, and by doing so, my steady state recycling costs would be $C per widget, which might be lower than your steady-state recycling costs. So the price of my higher quality widget would become $Z = $X+$B+$C.

As long as my increase in costs, $B+$C, is less than or equal to your increase in costs, $A, then my approach would in theory be a better business model because who in their right mind would want to buy your more cheaply made product at the same price point as mine. I would sell more electro-widgets than before and my profits would increase. The real question, of course, is whether my steady state recycling costs on a per widget basis will be lower than yours, and if so, whether that savings can offset the cost of the higher quality component and the one-time expense of transitioning to a new manufacturing system. Maybe it will, maybe it won't.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984333)

But again, this comes down to simple economics, if the specifics of your theoretical set of two manufacturers represents a reality - then that reality exists irrespective of the mandated recycling legislation and the company that takes advantage of this will succeed without any state interference. No law is needed.

You cannot fight economics, it's like gravity. State interference in the market can only reduce efficiency and increase costs.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984693)

Except that the fact that recycling is now mandated creates a huge recycling industry that otherwise might not have happened (or would have happened, but taken decades to get there), driving down $A and $C due to economies of scale and increased research into recycling efficiency.

Ultimately you might not be able to win against gravity, but you can do useful things by fighting it. You can also use gravity to get useful work done. Saying "Everything ends up on the floor anyway, there's no point building aircraft / tables / ramps / dams" is kind of stupid.

Posted AC for obvious reasons.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984677)

The problem you miss is who is going to pay more for your product? How do they know in advance it's not expensive crap as opposed to your competitor's cheap crap?

Nowadays a lot of stuff that used to last longer, no longer last as long even though they are the same brand, and sometimes even look the same as the old stuff.

I've a bunch of Byford socks that are still usable after 20 years (they're a bit thinner now, but no holes, and the elastic stuff is still fine), and I've 1 year old Byford socks that are loose due the the elastic band failing. I can understand why cheap socks no longer last 20 years - doesn't really make good business sense (despite supposedly socks going missing after a while).

Not long ago I paid a premium for Hush Puppy formal shoes and they failed early[1] (and I was told by someone that quality has dropped, too bad I wasn't told before I paid for them). So instead of paying a premium, I now buy USD10 shoes that I know won't last, but they cost USD10, so even if they only last 6 months they are cheaper in the long run. Plus they are even more comfortable than the Hush Puppy pair I bought (soft PU is softer than leather).

[1] Heel came off. I glued it back, but some months later the sole split near the ball of my foot.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984871)

"How do they know in advance it's not expensive crap as opposed to your competitor's cheap crap?"

How do they know that today?

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984297)

Still, the total profit margin (not at the time of sale, but throughout it's life i.e. including the recycling) would be made slightly smaller for a less durable product than for a more durable product, thus the motivation to sell more durable products would increase slightly (perhasps not much, but still). No?

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (2, Informative)

jimmy_dean (463322) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983987)

"Wouldn't this make the long-term profit on more durable items larger?"

No, this is a tax and thus is a net drain on society. Morality can't be legislated, even if recycling is a good thing. This is nannying the general populous in a very large way and will result in more special treatment for special interests. When these companies can no longer compete with the rest of the world, they'll either move out of Europe or seek special favors from the EU politicians to help keep them afloat. This happens again, and again and is nothing new.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984185)

"Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations!

And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works."

Claude Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850)

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984373)

Yep.. that is EXACTLY what is happening in the U.S. and Europe. No differences there. None at all.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (3, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984393)

"When these companies can no longer compete with the rest of the world, they'll either move out of Europe or seek special favors from the EU politicians to help keep them afloat."

If the rules apply to all companies why shouldn't they be able to compete? Or are you suggesting that all companies are going to suddenly stop selling all electronics in europe?

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984513)

An important point, but a complex one. What is the market? The UK? The EU? We have a global market where "the rules apply to all companies" is not and will never be reality.

"Or are you suggesting that all companies are going to suddenly stop selling all electronics in europe?"

Perhaps, at the minimum you can count on prices increasing. Look at Detroit to see how interference in the market has reduced one of our largest cities nearly to a smoking pile of rubble.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984715)

1. Taxes don't end up in a black hole, they actually pay for shit that benefits a lot of people.
2. It's not a tax according to the definitions on Wikipedia, it merely mandates corporations to reduce their effect on the environment.
3. This is the law that benefits consumers and the environment, and the people wants the law. If this is nannying, I don't mind it.
4. I doubt electronic retail stores will move leave the EU.
5. Most richer countries actually have waste collection (including e-waste) managed by the government, i.e. largely funded by tax payers. Which is something everyone agrees is a good thing. This laws makes it better because it moves a little amount of the costs of this waste collection from tax payers, to the retail stores (and thus only the consumers of such goods, in proportion of the amound of goods they buy) instead.
6. Sweden has very strong consumer and environmental laws, very high taxes, and is a nanny-state if there ever was none. And you know what? We're just fine.
7. "Morality can't be legislated"... Corporations are not people and does not follow moral, they operate within the boundaries of the legislation to extract as much money as possible from consumer's wallets. A single consumer CAN use his powers to push a corporation to act in a certain way, but sometimes it is a lot easier for all consumers to vote for politicians to create laws which in a larger scale forces all corporations to act in this certain way.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40985121)

1. Money that is not taxed pays for "shit" that benefits a lot of people too. What does this have to do with anything? In addition there is no organization less efficient, more corrupt and more wasteful than a government. When you are spending money that you have to work for you have an incentive to make wise purchases and not waste your money. When you are spending money confiscated from someone else it's very easy to be wasteful as you can go out anytime and confiscate more.

2. Wikipedia is not an authority on anything. This is a state mandated cost, call it whatever you want, it is a form of tax.

3. You have not proven any benefit to consumers or the environment, sorry. I am happy for you and your nanny, just stay the fuck away from us free people.

4. Whatever.

5. You say "everyone agrees", I say "everyone does not agree". Happy?

6. I'm happy for you.

7. "it is a lot easier for all consumers to vote for politicians to create laws"

Brings me to think of the name Benito Mussolini. Here is a quote for you to think about statist; "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40985377)

1. Corrupted and wasteful, perhaps. Still, in many ways that is better than what corporations are.

2. By every definition ever, tax is a cost collected by the government. This is not. You just can't redefine words all of your own like this.

3. Do I actually need to prove that making it easier for consumers to recycle e-waste is good for the environment? Also, your freedom seems to be working out very well for you.

4. ...

5. Well, there's always the emo anarchist sitting in the corner. Also, whatever.

6. Thanks!

7. Your don't make any sense.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984835)

No, this is a tax and thus is a net drain on society.

First, you believe all taxes are drains on society? You can't have government without revenue, and anarchy always leads to monarchy. Some things, like roads and bridges, are best done by governments and paid for by taxes. But this isn't a tax; a tax goes straight to government. This is no more a tax than my city mandating that I hire a private waste disposal company to take my garbage.

Morality can't be legislated, even if recycling is a good thing. This is nannying the general populous in a very large way

So, you're against murder, rape, and theft laws? Either I'm completely misunderstanding you, or you're insane. This isn't nannying any more than laws against dumping your oil in the river are. Marijuana laws, prostitution laws, sodomy laws -- victimless crimes -- are nannying. Environmental laws, like laws against other assaults, protect you from me.

When these companies can no longer compete with the rest of the world, they'll either move out of Europe or seek special favors from the EU politicians to help keep them afloat.

So, you'ld like London or Brussels to look like Mexico City? This is simply another environmental law. I wish they'd impliment it here in the US, I see it as a good law. As it is here, the onus is on the consumer to recycle the equipment. Your EU law puts the onus on the manufacturer (or possibly seller?). I have junk in my garage I'd love to throw away, but I'd have to cart it ten miles to the nort part of town.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (5, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40985215)

>>>No, this is a tax and thus is a net drain on society. Morality can't be legislated, even if recycling is a good thing.

By that logic we shouldn't have filters on car exhausts, stop people from littering, or have centralized sewer disposal in cities. We should just let people live in filfth, like how Paris was circa 1800. (It is said that place was so full of manure and waste that visitors could Smell the city before they could see it.)

People have basic rights. Among those rights is the right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. That means forbidding people from polluting & violating those basic rights. The government is simply doing its job to stop these violations of individual rights.

As for "shipping jobs overseas" there would be no advantage. Chinese companies if they want to operate in the EU also must abide by these recycling rules. Else they will be barred from entering & selling to ~500 million citizens.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40985345)

So your argument is 'China is less moral than us, so why bother?'.
Everyone knows the earth's resources are limited. Kinda the best a country (or body like Europe) can do is set a policy to re-use these resources internally, and not deal with others who do differently. Hopefully they have enough sway for their views to spread.
Kyoto failed for exactly this reason. America wouldn't commit, because why limit themselves if India and China weren't going to follow suite.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983607)

If this is done right, it can still be beneficial. If the manufacturer has the burden of paying that cost and they have to build it into the price, then devices that will last longer can be priced lower and better quality devices will be able to compete. (I know there are other influences, like how well the owner treats the device, but the quality of a device and the reusability of the components should have more of an impact).

I don't think we do enough to include the intangable costs of products in their prices. When consumes shop on price, and most do, manufacturers focus strictly on the up front cost, completely forgetting that their is a cost to the environment.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983775)

"If the manufacturer has the burden of paying that cost and they have to build it into the price, then devices that will last longer can be priced lower and better quality devices will be able to compete"

Excuse me, you are just re-stating the OP statement that "If manufacturers have to go to the trouble of recycling their goods they might be tempted to make them more reliable", so again I ask how is this logical?

The state is not incentivizing efficiency, it is simply adding a cost to production. That is all.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984761)

"it is simply adding a cost to production"
But it adds a different amount of cost to production of items, depending on their durability...

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (2)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984963)

"If the manufacturer has the burden of paying that cost and they have to build it into the price, then devices that will last longer can be priced lower and better quality devices will be able to compete"

Excuse me, you are just re-stating the OP statement that "If manufacturers have to go to the trouble of recycling their goods they might be tempted to make them more reliable", so again I ask how is this logical?

The state is not incentivizing efficiency, it is simply adding a cost to production. That is all.

The cost is there, regardless, and the consumer will pay most of it in various ways. If the manufacturer has to pay it up front, there's at least some incentive to make it more efficient from the start, since there's only so much you can pass on before people start complaining.

On the other hand, the traditional way, where factories spew out goods and someone else ends up paying for the waste disposal and/or toxic waste cleanup doesn't give the manufacturer any incentive. So unless you get "free" garbage collection (and I don't, since they made it a separate bill now so that they could "keep my taxes low"), you're going to pay either way and you might as well get value at the end of product life as well as at the beginning.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (1)

franciscohs (1003004) | more than 2 years ago | (#40985055)

Why do you feel, as a consumer, that you wouldn't have to pay for it?, if you're the one using the product, why wouldn't you be responsible for the entire lifecycle of the product?

There's one point where we have to start to understand that we need to make responsible use of what we buy. Products should be much more expensive and durable, and should be manufactured and dumped responsibly.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (1, Informative)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983437)

Indeed, one might hope...

But already for many years similar legislation has been in place in a couple of EU member states and I've yet to see a turning of the curve to more sustainable equipment.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (2)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983529)

alternatively make them easier to recycle. If the components weren't a complete mismash of every type of rare metal known to man, they might be a lot easier to melt down and reuse.

There are a lot of places [emrgroup.com] that you can drop off metals for recycling - metal recycling rates are so high I can take an old copper heatsink (from a 1U server) and get £4 for it's scrap value. Steel chassis and parts are also valuable. Its the cost of recycling the circuit boards that has a negative value, so you don't get to drop an appliance off and receive a bit of cash. If that was different, you can bet people would be doing it a lot more.

Having breakable equipment provides jobs in making and selling new ones - I'm ok with that, but I'd like to make even more jobs in easily breaking up the bits of old stuff to make the new stuff with.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983781)

Its the cost of recycling the circuit boards that has a negative value, so you don't get to drop an appliance off and receive a bit of cash.

Electronic appliances, yes. For some weird reason the local scrappers would pick up an old/broken kitchen oven and give you $25, at least that was the case a couple years ago. All other appliances were merely picked up for free. So buy a new "whatever", put the old one out, make a call, and in a couple hours or less a truck picks it up and hauls it away for free.

If you own a $50K pickup truck that gets 8 MPG you can load the appliance in the truck bed and deliver it yourself for a couple bucks, but its a financial loss if you only do one appliance at a time so...

I do know for a fact that you can make money by renting the home depot $19/hr rental pickup and packing it full of old apartment building appliances. The problem is the remodeling contractor made my buddy do all the removal himself, so his revenue minus expenses looked great but his profit per hour for the entire task from start to finish looked pretty miserable. Still, if you're a starving college kid looking for beer money your weekend time is kinda free/worthless so why not. I do not recall how much money exactly, but a truck bed full of avocado green kitchen appliances was high two figures. Home depot was angry because they prefer you use their truck to haul purchases from their store... whatever. Basically he disconnected appliances and hauled them out all morning and then around lunchtime rented the truck to take his daily haul to the dump. The fridges with food left in them when they disconnected power were pretty gross. Supposedly the freon in the fridges was worth extra money... individuals don't get paid for "donating" freon but he was bringing a hundred or so fridges, so he had a special deal I donno about.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#40985403)

Actually, the people who do the actual refining disagree - doing the meltdown is actually far easier on an electronics waste stream than extracting it out from the ground - the concentrations are much higher and the usual extraction processes work just as well, except generating more product.

And yes, they also consider mining landfills for the same reason - a rich resource of raw materials.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983585)

Doubt they will last longer. There is too much money in new purchases. Repairs are a tiny amount of income. Refurb is bigger, but still pretty small.

Easier to do the latter 2 cases will likely be true, more so the last.
Likely things might even become more modular so one system could be easily swapped out for another and bam, works.
No setup, no nothing, just a simple interface between the boards that works.
This would also make it easier to swap lesser systems with more advanced systems to be sold as better units. (such as a TV with picture in picture support, and one without)
This is both a good and bad thing. Good because this is the way things SHOULD be already. Bad because you know companies will abuse the hell out of it considering the current economy.

"Why repair an old TV when you can get this brand new one, with super hifi turbo HD and shiny screen, at just double the price for the repair?"
"TAKE MY MONEY!"
Little did they realize they lived... ON THE SUN. Enjoy your glare buddy, I'll enjoy my bubbly and steak.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983805)

Isn't there some left coast electronics store famous for taking broken returned items and putting them back on the shelf for resale?

I find it extremely likely that if you return a "broken" TV someone else will be buying it. Maybe as a "display model" as-is for 5% off.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984167)

Or alternatively perhaps we'll go back to goods that are designed to be repaired more easily instead of being junked just because 1 capacitor blew that could be replaced for pennies.

Pay your labor force pennies, and buy the cheapest possible crap capacitor... and you'll get your replacement costs down to a few nickels.

Re:Perhaps stuff might last longer now (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40985129)

>>>10K TVs that died 1 day after their warranty

Ya know..... I've heard this complaint my whole life. Yes people have been complaining, "They don't make things like they used to" for decades. And yet I have a Sears TV built in the 70s that still works.

A Panasonic 80s radio that still works (though the cassette player runs too slow). An XP-PC that is ten years old and still runs. A N64 that still plays games. A PS2 that is eleven years old and still plays games. A cellphone I bought in 1999 that still makes calls. A 1990 Dodge that lasted til 360,000 miles and a 1997 Mitsubishi that is still going strong at 150,000. Point: All MY stuff seems to last a long, long, long time with very few issues.

What on EARTH do you people do to your stuff that it dies so early? Maybe the problem isn't the manufacturer but the user being abusive: Dropping the phone, piling books on top of the console, going 0-to-60 in 10 seconds (and then slamming on the brakes) at every redlight. Stuff is meant to be used with care and gentleness.

Already in place in Sweden? (1)

cycler (31440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983349)

Now I might be wrong here but memory serves that in Sweden the retailers are forced to accept a return of old equipment of the same kind when you purchase a new one. My google-fu right now has failed me so I can't find a reference.

I might be that what was optional now will be mandatory and different countries could already have this in effect.

More googling suggests that this is how it is. /C

Re:Already in place in Sweden? (3, Insightful)

Nick Fel (1320709) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983411)

The difference here is that you won't be required to make a new purchase. Many UK retailers will also dispose of your old stuff free if you buy something, although they're not required to.

Re:Already in place in Sweden? (1)

AlexCommPeak (2708087) | more than 2 years ago | (#40985197)

Unfortunately, it may be too little and too late. If someone were to force Apple globally to accept and recycle their old equipment, perhaps they wouldn't have released so many intentionally underdeveloped models to sell a new one a year later on. Same goes for a lot of manufacturers. Prices will definitely go up, but quality will go up as well, as no one would want to get their "junk" back.

Re:Already in place in Sweden? (2)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983515)

Yes, I believe something like this has been place in Finland for quite a while. Many big computer stores do also receive and recycle electronics without cost already.

Re:Already in place in Sweden? (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983579)

Now I might be wrong here but memory serves that in Sweden the retailers are forced to accept a return of old equipment of the same kind when you purchase a new one.

Where I live if you sell oil you must accept returned oil. No charge, no asking for ID, no debate. They are allowed to whine and complain and try to convince you to buy stuff, but they are none the less legally required to accept oil. So yes, you can carry bottles of used motor oil to a 15-minute quick lube place, or a dealership, or service station, or even walmart, and demand they take it, and they will. Supposedly they can deny if you're "obviously" a business, so 4 quarts of 5w30 is obviously OK but I donno what happens if you walk in with multiple full 5 gallon buckets. Supposedly the amount of oil dumped in the environment has dropped to darn near zero since this was enacted decades ago. I haven't seen a oil sheen on the local river since I was a kid... so I tend to believe it.

Can a /.er verify for me if this is a state or federal law?

Re:Already in place in Sweden? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40985019)

Many many many years ago there was a very funny "Shoe" cartoon strip (possibly the only one...) where the old bird takes his old car in for an oil change, and asks the mechanic bird what he does with the old oil.

Acting upon it, he says, "Well, I just take it out around back..." and is confronted with a U.S. Coast Guard ship pointing a large gun at him, continuing, "and drink it."

AC

Re:Already in place in Sweden? (1)

larppaxyz (1333319) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984519)

Now I might be wrong here but memory serves that in Sweden the retailers are forced to accept a return of old equipment of the same kind when you purchase a new one. My google-fu right now has failed me so I can't find a reference.

I might be that what was optional now will be mandatory and different countries could already have this in effect.

More googling suggests that this is how it is. /C

Mandatory in Finland also, can't recall how many years already. But it's not just that, you can also take your old electronics to local dump and recycle them for free. This also works for all other household item's that can be recycled, like old car batteries. No reason to throw them into river or park at night.

Re:Already in place in Sweden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984977)

Although, most Swedes probably have a recycling station (accepting e-waste) closer than to ANY retail store so not many people know or care about this law :)

Evil European Socialism at its finest. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983369)

They're only a few months from utter collapse now. They should have let the free market solve this problem COMPETITIVELY! If the customers demanded something, then somebody would rise to fill that demand!

Instead we have the inefficient government stepping in to cause failure to succeed!

Heck I bet some of these companies start making their stuff break sooner since you can just take it back for disposal!

Indeed (5, Funny)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983521)

I am a Jobs-Creator and my new venture in the Congo will surely suffer due to this Communist legislation. Think of the little black employees!

Gabriel Mzungu,
senior VP Heart of Darkness Recycling Technologies

Good news everybody (2)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983381)

This is a really important step forward for the environment.

this has been in effect for years in Belgium (1, Informative)

tommeke100 (755660) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983395)

They now charge a 'recycling fee' on new electronic appliances. This goes from a couple of cents for small electronics to a couple of euros for fridges.

Re:this has been in effect for years in Belgium (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40983423)

The same in the Netherlands. Except it was something around 9 euros for a TV I thought.

apples and oranges? (1)

1800maxim (702377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983525)

How is this the same? This bill is forcing retailers to accept your old equipment for recycling. As in, you have an old laptop that works or doesn't work, you want to throw it out. Now you can take it to the retailer and deposit it there.

Environment fee is not the same thing, though both apples and oranges are fruit.

Re:apples and oranges? (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983651)

How is this the same? This bill is forcing retailers to accept your old equipment for recycling. As in, you have an old laptop that works or doesn't work, you want to throw it out. Now you can take it to the retailer and deposit it there. Environment fee is not the same thing, though both apples and oranges are fruit.

Correct. And since they can't legally charge to accept your old equipment they add a fee on to the new equipment they sell. Sounds like apples to apples (or PCs to PCs) to me.

Re:apples and oranges? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983809)

retailers have been forced in most areas of eu to already take your old equipment and gather a fee associated with that..

you have been able to dump your old electronics at any electronics store in finland for the past.. dunno, 10+ years.

Re:apples and oranges? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983923)

It is not, but in that case it is no real problem for the retailer either. Have a pallet in the back for this stuff, when pallet is full call recycler. I have this done at work all the time, they pay 1 cent per pound for that sort of unsorted electronics. The pickup fee is normally covered by that.

Re:this has been in effect for years in Belgium (1)

CrashandDie (1114135) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983813)

France has been doing the same thing, but that's not the same WEEE. The one you're talking about is this one [europa.eu] , dated from 2003. The "eco-tax" has been applied since 2005, IIRC.

The main difference, as I understand it, is that the 2003 WEEE left it up to the member state to define which scheme to implement, in order to recoup the costs of recycling electronic goods:

From this website [conformance.co.uk] :

It is important to note that the WEEE Directive does not stipulate how its aims should be achieved and the system therefore currently varies between member states. A new WEEE Directive is proposed for publication in early 2012 that should solve this problem, among others.

Re:this has been in effect for years in Belgium (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984563)

Likewise, but while a laudable intiative, its important to keep track of the whole process. A lot of that e-waste, maybe even the majority, gets smuggled out and dumped into developing countries where villagers burn the stuff in their fields to get what they can out of it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/science/earth/27waste.html?pagewanted=all [nytimes.com]
http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/electronic-waste-developing-world [guardian.co.uk]

Let the free market take care of this (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983733)

There are 2 Ace Hardware stores in my town. One of them recycles CFL bulbs for free, no matter where you buy them. The other does not offer this service. Therefore I refuse to spend money at the non-recycling Ace Hardware. I take my money to the store that does the recycling. The market of 'me' is demanding recycling services of retailers.

Re:Let the free market take care of this (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984271)

There are 2 Ace Hardware stores in my town. One of them recycles CFL bulbs for free, no matter where you buy them. The other does not offer this service. Therefore I refuse to spend money at the non-recycling Ace Hardware. I take my money to the store that does the recycling. The market of 'me' is demanding recycling services of retailers.

I simply refuse to buy CFL in the first place - horrible technology, from the poisons inside it to the "brightness" of the bulb.

Re:Let the free market take care of this (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 2 years ago | (#40985111)

The idea that the free market can take care of this assumes that a meaningful fraction of customers give a shit about this kind of stuff.

A lot of electronics "recycling" is a fraud (3, Informative)

JDG1980 (2438906) | more than 2 years ago | (#40983757)

In many cases, electronics that are supposed to be recycled really aren't. Instead, they are dumped in the Third World [pbs.org] where they cause all kinds of environmental problems.

Even when some actual recycling is done, it is likely to make the impact on the environment worse, not better, than if it was just dumped in a landfill. See this article [softpedia.com] for some details (with photos) of how an electronics "recycling" operation in China threatens both the environment and worker safety. Of course, it's all about the Benjamins: "Sending a monitor to China costs about ten cents. Actually recycling it costs several dollars."

If the European Union wants this regulation to have a positive impact, they need to stipulate that the equipment be recycled locally under EU safety and environmental standards – not just exported to Ghana or China and down the memory hole.

Re:A lot of electronics "recycling" is a fraud (1)

delt0r (999393) | more than 2 years ago | (#40985093)

Find the shiny! [comedycentral.com]

The French (2)

guttentag (313541) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984091)

Waste electrical and electronic equipment, or WEEE, is one the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, but currently only one-third of electrical and electronic waste is separately collected and appropriately treated.

The French had no arguments with this proposal, "Oui! We have been recycling our WEEE for some time now, and selling it to the Americans as 'eau de toilette.' We find this is a very profitable arrangement that also supports our sense of national pride. Now go away or I shall spray it on you a second time!"

The free rider problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984459)

Assuming that accepting recycled goods actually costs the retailers more than they can get in return (and it probably does), Amazon, newegg and other online retailers would be getting a free ride on yet another cost born by bricks and mortar merchants.

What a waste.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984571)

Having to drive your stuff all the way back to the retailer? Putting the burden to collect on retailers to be recyclers. Stupid. Do you bring old clothes back to the mall? Do you bring your old fruit back to the fruit stand? Just make another recycling stream and collect with other wastes. Recycled electronics still bring in value, especially computers. The worse one is CRTs, but will all be gone soon.

Oblig... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40984673)

Think of the Wi-WEEE

Pay to return? or get a discount because of return (1)

BetaDays (2355424) | more than 2 years ago | (#40984947)

I wonder if they will charge for the waste disposal fee like they do with tires here in the USA. I buy a new tire and they bill me a dollar to dispose of it or the dollar they charge me to get rid of the oil when I do an oil change. OR will it be more like Best Buy where you bring in your stuff and they will tell you how much they will give you for it since you have to buy a new item, or will take it off your hands for free. Although they don't take back certain things.
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