Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)

A first directive concerning producer responsibility for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) was adopted in 20 03.66 It was recast in 2012 as Directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment, based on Article 192(1) TFEU.67 It lays down measures to protect the environment and human health by preventing or reducing the adverse impacts of the generation and management of WEEE and by reducing overall impacts of resource use and improving the efficiency of such use. Subject to a transitional period ending on 14 August 2018, the Directive applies to all electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) with a few exceptions. These include equipment which is necessary for the protection of the essential interests of the security of Member States, large-scale stationary industrial tools, and large-scale fixed installations.

EEE is equipment which is dependent on electric currents or electromagnetic fields in order to work properly and equipment for the generation, transfer, and measurement of such currents and fields and designed for use below a certain voltage rating. EEE which is waste within the meaning of Directive 2008/98/EC counts as WEEE. (Art 3.)

Member States are to encourage cooperation between producers and recyclers and promote the design and production of EEE in view of facilitating re-use, dismantling, and recovery of WEEE, its components, and its materials (Art 4).

For WEEE from private households, systems must be set up which allow final holders and distributors to return such waste at least free of charge.

When supplying a new product, distributors shall be responsible for ensuring that such waste can be returned to the distributor at least free of charge on a one-to- one basis as long as the equipment is of equivalent type and has fulfilled the same

«3 Ibid. 64 Ibid, 10. «5 [2005] OJ L 310/10.

  • 66 Directive 2002/96/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) [2003] OJ L 37/24.
  • 67 [2012] OJ L 197/38.

functions as the supplied equipment. Derogations are allowed as long as they do not make returning the WEEE more difficult for the final holder.

At large retail shops distributors must be required to provide, with some exceptions, for the collection of very small WEEE free of charge to end-users and with no obligation to buy EEE of an equivalent type. There are also compulsory collection rates to be achieved based on the ‘producer responsibility’ principle. From 2019, the minimum collection rate to be achieved annually is 65 per cent of the average weight of EEE placed on the market in the three preceding years in the Member State concerned, or alternatively 85 per cent of WEEE generated on the territory of that Member State. Certain Member States may, because of their lack of the necessary infrastructure and their low level of EEE consumption, postpone the achievement of this collection rate until 14 August 2021. (Arts 5 and 7.)

The Member States must ensure that all separately collected WEEE undergoes proper treatment (Art 8).

The collection, treatment, recovery, and environmentally sound disposal of WEEE from private households that has been deposited at collection facilities are to be paid for by producers. For products placed on the market later than 13 August 2005, each producer shall be responsible for financing these operations relating to the waste from its own products. A producer may choose to fulfil this obligation either individually or by joining a collective scheme. When placing a product on the market, producers must be required to mark their products and to provide a guarantee showing that the management of all WEEE will be financed. With respect to WEEE from products placed on the market on or before 13 August 2005 (‘historical waste’), the costs shall be borne by one or more systems to which all producers existing on the market when the respective costs occur contribute proportionately. Similar requirements apply with respect to WEEE from users other than private households, although the rules for historical waste are partly different. (Arts 12 and 13.)

Users of EEE in private households must be given the necessary information about, inter alia, the requirements not to dispose of WEEE as unsorted municipal waste and to collect WEEE separately, and the return and collection systems available to them (Art 14).

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