CECED Magyarország Egyesülés

 
Laws and legal framework
According to an obligation stipulated in EU directive 2002/96/EC (hereinafter “Directive”), by 2008, Hungary has to ensure that 4 kg/capita electronic waste is recycled in each year. The Directive was adopted in Hungary by Government Decree No. 264/2004 (IX.23) (the “Decree”), which became effective on October 8, 2004, and provides a legal framework for the electronic waste management system. According to the Decree, managing electronic waste is the obligation of manufacturers (principle of manufacturers’ liability), who can carry out this obligation in three ways: (i) independently, (ii) by transferring this obligation by contract to a waste management company, or (iii) by joining a waste management coordination organization. On the basis of the experience of systems being operated in Europe (e.g. the Netherlands, Belgium), the third alternative is the best and most cost-effective solution: the more companies join forces to attain an objective, the more effectively waste management costs can be reduced. Therefore, since the said legal regulation became effective in Hungary (October 8, 2004), several management coordination bodies have been established and started to operate. The Decree specifies the e-waste volume that manufacturers are obliged to process based on their yearly output, and obliges them to certify compliance with this to the supervision authorities. These proportions tend to increase from year to year; for example, in the case of large household appliances, the figures were 9% for 2005, 18% for 2006 and 27% for 2007. Manufacturers joining a management coordination organization provide data to this organization about their previous year output; based on this information, the management coordination organization will ensure in each year the processing of at least the volume of e-waste that is sufficient, broken down by each joining partner, for these partners to comply with their relevant statutory obligation.

What does waste management fee mean?

The Directive and, based on it, the Decree allow manufacturers to show a certain amount separately[1]. This is calculated on the basis of the cost of managing “historical waste” (waste from electrical and electronic equipment manufactured before August 13, 2005), in the price of new devices when selling them. Manufacturers were allowed to do this because the law had imposed a subsequent obligation on them. When manufacturers placed devices that have now become historical waste on the market and calculated their price, they were unaware that in the future, they would have an obligation to manage the waste from such devices. However, the legislator has set a deadline for showing such separate fees: February 13, 2011 (except for large household appliances for which the date is February 13, 2013), as devices placed on the market before August 13, 2005 are expected to become waste by that time.

As the indication of the waste management fee in prices is associated with actual waste management activities (its amount is based on the related costs), manufacturers are entitled to indicate such fees as soon as they become engaged in this activity. This means that August 13 is not generally applicable to all manufacturers, but they will be entitled to indicate such fees from the moment of starting this activity. You may well ask: is this an activity I have to pay for as a consumer, an activity which increases the price of washing machines and hair dryers? Simply replying in the affirmative would not be the right answer. Firstly, please note that the establishment of a coordinating organization requires a minimum nominal capital of 75 million forints, which consists of funds contributed by the founding manufacturers. Secondly, what is trying to be achieved should also be taken into account when trying to say why we have to pay more for a particular product, about 80 forints more for a hair dryer or about 200 forints more for a vacuum cleaner. By paying this amount, we can be sure that old devices will no longer end up on the edge of a forest and pollute the environment, because manufactures will take action to ensure their proper recycling. Also, we should be aware that when buying a new device a few years from now, the dealer will be obliged to take the one we buy now back from us at no cost, and it will not end up on top of a junk-heap on the edge of a forest. Further, if a manufacturer fails to carry out its waste management obligation, it has to pay a product fee, and must allow for this when determining prices; this fee may be several times higher than the waste management fee. And finally, we know that through all this, we will be part of and cooperating partners in a system that may finally solve existing waste management problems and, as a result, we and our children can live in a cleaner and healthier environment. Don’t you agree that this is worth 80 forints?

[1]Please note that in principle, separate indication of this item in prices according to the Decree means that the item shown separately by manufacturers on wholesale invoices should be separately indicated by dealers for consumers, either on the invoices or on the price tags, in order to inform consumers; achieving this, however, requires joint efforts by manufacturers and consumer protection bodies, since this practice is not fully developed as yet - for the time being, dealers do not further communicate these fees to consumers.