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Think before you bin it: Euro-MPs vote to ban toxic 'e-waste'

November 24, 2010 5:00 PM

People doing their Christmas shopping over the next month or so might want to think not only about where they're going to buy their new electronic goodies, but also how they're going to get rid of their old gadgets and household appliances.

'E-waste' is growing all the time and can be very toxic for humans and the environment, so the European Parliament has voted for new rules to ban the nastiest chemicals from being used in our electronic goods. Euro-MPs in Strasbourg are insisting that the worst toxic substances such as lead, mercury and cadmium be kept out of our computers, fridges and microwaves.

The new EU law, which if approved by governments will come into force next year, will mean that all kinds of electronic goods will be covered by the toxic chemical ban, with a few exceptions for high-tech products such as solar panels.

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford said:

"Whether to treat ourselves or as a Christmas present, as shoppers we're tempted to buy the latest iPod or flatscreen TV - if we can afford it of course. In the EU alone 10 million tonnes of electrical goods are sold every year."

"Yet the downside is that every year we also throw out almost as many gadgets and household appliances, which unless properly disposed of can leach toxic chemicals which can cause cancer and birth defects."

"So it's right that the EU is leading the way in making sure that the stuff we buy is safe and eco-friendly, and setting a high standard for the rest of the world."

"But it is up to every one of us to responsibly get rid of our old computers, mobiles and microwaves. Don't just throw them in the bin - recycle them through a charity, your local retailer or get your local council to come and pick them up!"

ENDS