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Keywords:

  • consumer prices;
  • e-waste;
  • extended producer responsibility (EPR);
  • industrial ecology;
  • waste management;
  • waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)

Summary

In January 2003, the European Union (EU) issued a directive on e-waste (waste from electrical and electronic equipment; WEEE) to deal with increasing quantities and the included hazardous components. The WEEE Directive is based on the principle of extended producer responsibility, which shifts the responsibility for end of life of products away from municipalities toward producers. This led some researchers to state that, in theory, the costs of waste treatment are passed on to consumers in terms of higher prices. This work addresses two fundamental questions: (1) Did the introduction of the WEEE Directive increase consumer prices of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE)? and (2) how much is this price increase? We carry out, for the first time in the literature, a quantitative research on price variation of the vast majority of EEE sold in the EU after the introduction of producers’ financial responsibility. The panel data include 972 price level indices, namely, six categories of EEE for 27 member states for six years. The main result is that the average variation of the prices for each category of EEE investigated actually increased and the variation was between 0.71% and 3.88%, depending on the specific category of EEE. The average increase of 2.19% is in line with the previous studies that estimated the impact of the WEEE Directive up to a 3% increase of the product price. The t-test performed on the data shows a good statistical significance, which strengthens the relevance of the results. Finally, future directions for research are included.