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Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

What's new ?

  • 18 April 2017: The Commission adopted the "WEEE package" including:
    - The implementing Regulation and annex establishing a common methodology for the calculation of the weight of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) placed on the national market in each Member State and a common methodology for the calculation of the quantity of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) generated by weight in each Member State.
    - The report on the review of the scope of Directive 2012/19/EU on WEEE and on the re-examination of the deadlines for reaching the collection targets and on the possibility of setting individual collection targets for one or more categories of electrical and electronic equipment in Annex III to the Directive.
    - The report on the re-examination of the WEEE recovery targets, on the possible setting of separate targets for WEEE to be prepared for re-use and on the re-examination of the method for the calculation of the recovery targets set out in Article 11(6) of Directive 2012/19/EU on WEEE.
    - The report on the exercise of the power to adopt delegated acts conferred on the Commission pursuant to WEEE Directive.

 

Waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) such as computers, TV-sets, fridges and cell phones is one the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, with some 9 million tonnes generated in 2005, and expected to grow to more than 12 million tonnes by 2020.

WEEE is a complex mixture of materials and components that because of their hazardous content, and if not properly managed, can cause major environmental and health problems. Moreover, the production of modern electronics requires the use of scarce and expensive resources (e.g. around 10% of total gold worldwide is used for their production). To improve the environmental management of WEEE and to contribute to a circular economy and enhance resource efficiency the improvement of collection, treatment and recycling of electronics at the end of their life is essential.

To address these problems two pieces of legislation have been put in place: The Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE Directive) and the Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS Directive)

The first WEEE Directive (Directive 2002/96/EC) entered into force in February 2003. The Directive provided for the creation of collection schemes where consumers return their WEEE free of charge. These schemes aim to increase the recycling of WEEE and/or re-use.

In December 2008, the European Commission proposed to revise the Directive in order to tackle the fast increasing waste stream. The new WEEE Directive 2012/19/EU entered into force on 13 August 2012 and became effective on 14 February 2014.

EU legislation restricting the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS Directive 2002/95/EC) entered into force in February 2003. The legislation requires heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium and flame retardants such as polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) to be substituted by safer alternatives. In December 2008, the European Commission proposed to revise the Directive. The RoHS recast Directive 2011/65/EU became effective on 3 January 2013 (more information about RoHS is available here).