Electronic devices contain toxic metals which can cause health problems when incorrectly disposed of - not to mention the impact it has on the environment. The European Parliament is therefore looking to tackle the growing amount of e-waste we generate from discarded computers, mobile phones and other appliances or electronic devices.
Under the proposed new rules, manufacturers will be encouraged to build devices that are more easily recyclable, as the ''producer pays'' principle will continue to apply.
While EU consumers are currently entitled to dispose of e-waste free of charge at designated treatment centers, MEPs suggest that most retailers should have a recycling service in store.
The goal is to collect 85% of the e-waste produced in the EU by 2016, expecting to collect at least 4kg of e-waster per inhabitant in 2012. The latest official figures relate to 2008, and it shows that of the member states providing data, most were reaching the 2016 target already.
The UK lagged behind, being the least likely to recycle or reuse its large household appliances, with just 39% of the population doing so. For small appliances, Poland had the lowest reuse-recycle rate at just 47% of the population. At the other end of the scale, Lichtenstein boasted a 100% reuse-recycle rate for all household appliances.
The Parliament also touched upon the issue of illegal exports, highlighting that e-waste was often processed in unsafe conditions abroad. As such they are looking to tighten the inspection of shipments to make the exporter prove that the products are reusable.
With just about everything being done electronically in the EU, it was only going to be a matter of time before were got e-waste. So if you intend to upgrade your mobile, think of how you'll dispose of the old one!