A Southport Euro-MP has won support from the European Parliament in his battle to stop multinational electrical manufacturers building anti-recycling devices into their products.
In response to amendments tabled by Chris Davies, the European Parliament has called on EU governments to take steps to curb the sale of electrical equipment designed specifically to prevent it being reused or recycled.
The amendments to the Electrical and Electronic Waste (WEEE) Directive are seen as a bid to halt the use of so-called 'clever chips' intended to deter users of computer printers from installing remanufactured parts or refilled ink cartridges.
Opponents claim that the electronic devices, intended principally to display information about machine faults, are now being used to prevent printers operating if recycled or non-branded products are installed.
Southport MEP Chris Davies, who is the Liberal Democrat spokesman on the European Parliament's environment committee, claimed that the silicon chip devices are used by major manufacturers to curb competition and keep prices high.
He points to a patent taken out in the USA and Europe by Lexmark International for an ink jet cartridge which destroys itself to prevent it being refilled and re-used. When the level of ink falls an electrical current is activated which burns out the printer head.
"Action is needed now because these devices are still in their infancy and are getting too clever by half," said Mr Davies. "They are anti-competitive and contrary to the environmental aim of making the best use of materials."
Europe's re-manufacturers, who claim to employ some 50,000 people repairing printer equipment and refilling cartridges, have welcomed the European Parliament's decision.
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