The European Parliament has issued a recast of its Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive; this new directive states that 'to control possible risks to human and health and the environment from the treatment of WEEE that contains nanomaterials, it is appropriate for the Commission to assess whether specific treatment may be necessary'.
In particular, the revised directive states that the European Commission should assess whether Annex VII, which is the 'Selective treatment for materials and components of waste electrical and electronic equipment',should be amended in order to 'address nanomaterials contained in EEE'. The motive for this evaluation comes from an opinion published by the Commission's Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) in January 2009, which stated that 'exposure to nanomaterials that are firmly embedded in large structures, for example in electronic circuits, may occur in the waste phase and during recycling'.
According to the document, 'this Directive supplements the general waste management legislation of the Union', and in general its purpose is to'contribute to sustainable production and consumption by, as a first priority, the prevention of WEEE and, in addition, by the re-use, recycling and other forms of recovery of such wastes so as to reduce the disposal of waste and to contribute to the efficient use of resources'; this is dictated at the Union level, as 'different national policies on the management of WEEE hampers the effectiveness of recycling policies'. This Directive has been recast, however, as the European Parliament considers 'a number of substantial changes' to the 2003 Directive are necessary.
Follow this link to read the full recast EU Directive on WEEE, and this link to read the NIA's article about SCENIHR's nanomaterial opinion from January 2009.