Europe Cracks Down On E-Waste

New policy stirs alarm among corporate executives, hope among environmentalists, and creativity among engineers

8 min read

Electronic waste in Europe is growing sofast that it will double between 1998 and 2010, according to European Union documents. And in 1998 it already measured in the region of six million metric tons. The pace of its accumulation worries public officials because e-waste contains lead and other chemicals that can, to quote electronics recycling entrepreneur Simon Greer, literally "send you bonkers" if they leak into water supplies. As consumers and businesses dump their old computers, regulators are scrambling to steer machines and their parts out of landfills.

While this spreading scrap threatens towns around the world, the European Union is preparing a broad response. Or trying to. It will soon issue a Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive, requiring manufacturers to take machines back for free and to recycle 65 percent of their average weight. The European Parliament passed the directive--abbreviated as WEEE and pronounced like the scream of a child riding a roller coaster--on 10 April, one step in the process. Member states of the union will soon consider it; they could ratify the directive, which is akin to law, as early as this fall. WEEE is set to take full effect by 2008.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Video Friday: Turkey Sandwich

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
A teleoperated humanoid robot torso stands in a kitchen assembling a turkey sandwich from ingredients on a tray

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today's videos!

Keep Reading ↓Show less

New AI Speeds Computer Graphics by Up to 5x

Neural rendering harnesses machine learning to paint pixels

5 min read
Four examples of Nvidia's Instant NeRF 2D-to-3D machine learning model placed side-by-side.

Nvidia Instant NeRF uses neural rendering to generate 3D visuals from 2D images.


On 20 September, Nvidia’s Vice President of Applied Deep Learning, Bryan Cantanzaro, went to Twitter with a bold claim: In certain GPU-heavy games, like the classic first-person platformer Portal, seven out of eight pixels on the screen are generated by a new machine-learning algorithm. That’s enough, he said, to accelerate rendering by up to 5x.

This impressive feat is currently limited to a few dozen 3D games, but it’s a hint at the gains neural rendering will soon deliver. The technique will unlock new potential in everyday consumer electronics.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Modeling and simulation in Simulink and Simscape

1 min read
Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Design and simulate a fuel cell system for electric mobility. See by example how Simulink® and Simscape™ support multidomain physical modeling and simulation of fuel cell systems including thermal, gas, and liquid systems. Learn how to select levels of modeling fidelities to meet your needs at different development stages.