Stringent new EU e-waste rules officially came into effect on Monday, paving the way for a fundamental overhaul of how technology companies and businesses must handle unwanted electronic equipment and devices.
The updating of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive will impose a series of ambitious e-waste recovery and recycling targets on the IT and electronics industry while also introducing stringent penalties for companies that fail to comply with the rules.
The original WEEE directive placed a "producer responsibility" on manufacturers that made them legally and financially responsible for the safe collection and disposal of old equipment.
However, the directive has been criticised in recent years for struggling to sufficiently promote the re-use and recycling of valuable electronic resources and failing to crack down on the illegal export of old equipment to developing countries for scrap.
The updated directive [PDF], approved by the European Parliament last month, significantly strengthens a range of e-waste regulations and imposes new targets that will require member states to collect 45 per cent of electronic equipment sold for approved recycling or disposal from 2016.
This will rise to 65 per cent of equipment sold or 85 per cent of electronic waste generated by 2019, depending on which goal member states choose to adopt.
In addition, from 2018, subject to an impact assessment, the directive will be extended from its "current restricted scope" to all categories of electronic waste.
Many different types of electrical equipment are currently exempt from the rules after manufacturers argued they were too difficult to collect or recycle, a scenario the EU has signalled it wants to crack down on.
"In these times of economic turmoil and rising prices for raw materials, resource efficiency is where environmental benefits and innovative growth opportunities come together," said environment commissioner Janez Potočnik in a statement.
"We now need to open new collection channels for electronic waste and improve the effectiveness of existing ones."
Some parts of Atacama have not received rainfall for 500 years - but a sudden deluge of water upset the Desert's delicate biological balance
Spitzer Space Telescope could not spot Oumuamua, suggesting that it is actually pretty small
Greenland crater one of the 25 largest impact craters on Earth
This long-sought progenitor star was identified in an image captured by Hubble in 2007