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WEEE: Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

Summary

WEEE mandates that EU Member States enact rules directed at the prevention, reduction, recycling and re-using of waste from electric and electronic products (EEE). The Directive has provisions directed at the achievement of each of these objectives, however most U.S. exporters are concerned about those elements addressing the collection of EEE waste.

The original WEEE Directive was adopted on January 27, 2003. It was recast by the European Parliament and Council on July 4, 2012 and is often referred to as the “WEEE Recast Directive”. Like RoHS II, the WEEE Recast Directive is transitioning to an “open scope” legislation. This means that from August 15, 2018 all “EEE shall be classified within the categories set out in Annex III.”

U.S. exporters should consult the text of the WEEE Recast Directive, contact our office, or seek specialized guidance if they have questions on whether and/or when their products fall within the scope of the legislation.

Collection of EEE Waste

The WEEE Recast Directive imposes obligations on EU Member States to enact “appropriate measures” to minimize the disposal of EEE in the form of unsorted municipal waste. The Directive distinguishes between EEE waste generated from private households than that from non-private households.

It is important for U.S. exporters to recognize that the WEEE Recast Directive implements the “producer responsibility” principal and therefore they need to be vigilant in managing the relationships with their EU based partners.

Private Household Waste

The WEEE Recast Directive requires that Member States establish systems for users and distributors to return EEE waste to collection facilities “at least free of charge.” The Directive obliges producers to finance the collection, treatment, recovery and environmentally sound disposal of EEE waste at these facilities. EU Member States typically do this by imposing a fee on producers for each of their products placed on the market in their territory. Producers are also required to label and provide information to ensure that users know how to properly dispose of their product and the end of its life.

Non-Private Household Waste

As with private household waste, the WEEE Recast Directive obliges producers to finance the collection, treatment, recovery and environmentally sound disposal of EEE waste. However, the Directive requires that “producers or third parties acting on their behalf provide for the collection of such waste.” EU Member States typically do this by requiring producers to join a collection scheme.

Exemptions and Exclusions

The WEEE Recast Directive does not allow for producers to request that their products be exempted from the scope of its provisions. Therefore, it is important for U.S. exporters to determine whether their product is considered to be EEE. In addition, the Directive excludes several categories of products including: military equipment, filament bulbs, equipment designed to be sent into space, large-scale stationary industrial tools, large-scale fixed installations, means of transport, non-road mobile machinery, R&D equipment, and medical devices.

Labeling and Information to Users

The WEEE Recast Directive does not include any labeling requirements. However, it does allow Member States to require that producers provide information about how to properly dispose of their products. In this regard, U.S. exporters should consult the national rules of the EU Member State(s) to which they are exporting.

Legal Documents and Guidance

U.S. businesses exporting products covered by RoHS II may find the following documents useful:

  • WEEE Original Directive: Directive 2002/96/EC
  • WEEE Recast Directive: Directive 2012/19/EU
  • European Commission WEEE Original FAQ Document: WEEE FAQ (August 2006) This document provides interpretive guidance to industry on the the original RoHS and WEEE Directive. The European Commission is in the process of updating this document to reflect the adoption of the WEEE Recast Directive.

Questions and further information:

Please contact us at: Office.BrusselsEC@trade.gov

*Page last updated on May 16, 2013.