Bookmark and Share

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) – Brief Guide to ROHS,WEEE Directive,Regulations,Compliance,Revision and Collection

0 Comment

What is WEEE

WEEE refers to the  Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive issued by the European Community on E-Waste along with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive in  2003 which regulates the collection,recycling and disposal of electronic and electrical equipment.The Directives are 2002/96/EC and 2002/95/EC and are going to be revised soon as 2/3rd of E-Waste in Europe continues to be dumped in Europe and Third World Countries .WEEE makes it mandatory for the producers of to dispose of the Electronic Waste.Unlike the USA which does not have such a strict policy,the companies must do so in an environment friendly way and can’t just export all the electronic junk ot Africa,India and China which has been the way of the industry till then.

The legislation provides for the creation of collection schemes where consumers return their used e-waste free of charge. The objective of these schemes is to increase the recycling and/or re-use of such products. It also 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.The EU’s WEEE and RoHS laws simply serve as a template for national laws. They are transposed into national law at national level.Member States are required to draw up a register of producers and collect information on an annual basis on the quantities and categories of electrical and electronic equipment placed on their market, collected, re-used, recycled and recovered within that Member State and on collected waste exported.

WEEE Provision

The directive sets out collection requirements and a minimum collection target of 4 kg per inhabitant per year for WEEE from private households. In line with the so-called waste hierarchy, preference is given to re-using whole appliances of collected WEEE. In addition the directive provides minimum combined targets for re-using components and recycling and minimum recovery targets.

What is Restriction of Hazardous Substances (ROHS)

The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), which bans the use of certain hazardous substances (such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and some polybrominated flame-retardants) in EEE. RoHS allows possible exemptions.

WEEE Objective

The prevention of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), and in addition, the reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery of such wastes so as to reduce the disposal of waste. It also seeks  to improve the environmental performance of all operators involved in the life cycle of electrical and electronic equipment

WEEE Collection

Main Points

a) Systems have to be set up so that Final holders and Distributors are able to return such waste at least free of charge

b) 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

c) Producers  are allowed to set up and operate individual and/or collective take-back systems for WEEE from private households

d) Member States shall ensure that all WEEE collected  is transported to treatment facilities

The Commission proposes to set mandatory collection targets equal to 65% of the average weight of electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market over the two previous years in each Member State. The recycling and recovery targets of such equipment would cover the re-use of whole appliances and weight-base targets would increase by 5%. Targets are proposed also for the recovery of medical devices.

WEEE Success/Failure and Need for Revision

Despite Rules on Electronics collection and recycling  approximately a third of waste electrical and electronic equipment (33%) is reported to be treated according to the legislation. The rest goes to landfills (13%) and potentially to sub-standard treatment inside or outside the EU (54%). Illegal trade to non-EU countries is still widespread. The collection target of 4 kg per person per year does not reflect the amount of WEEE arising in individual Member States.

WEEE Revision

The European Commission has published its legislative proposal for the review of the WEEE Directive on December 3rd, 2008. The proposal will be debated and amended in a political legislative procedure by the European Parliament and EU Member States governments.New rules will probably not take effect until 2011-2012. Significant changes such as a broader scope, the introduction of CE marking requirements and new bans on substances could be made during this procedure.

Which changes does the Commission propose?

  • harmonise the registration and reporting obligations for producers and make national registers of producers inter-operational so that producers need only register and report in one Member State for all their activities in the EU. This is expected to lead to potential savings of €60 million;
  • clarify the scope and definitions;
  • change the collection target from the current 4kg/capita per year ("one size fits all") to a variable target that takes into account the economies of individual member States. The new target is set at 65% of the average weight of products placed on the market in the two preceding years. Although many Member States have already reached this target it becomes binding in 2016, thus giving other Member States time to adjust;
  • a combined recycling and re-use target which is socially and environmentally viable that will sort out current deterrents to re-using;
  • enhance environmental benefits and material savings by including recovery and recycling/re-use targets for medical devices;
  • set minimum inspection requirements for Member States to strengthen the enforcement of the directive and include minimum monitoring requirements for shipping WEEE;
  • make Member States, where appropriate, encourage producers to finance all the costs of separate collection;
  • allow producers to show to consumers at the time of sale the cost of collection, treatment and disposal of products in an environmentally-sound manner, without time limitation and for all equipments. This is in line with the principles of sustainable consumption and production and ensures that consumers can make informed purchasing choices.

What overall improvements are expected?

  • Significantly reduce the administrative burden to producers without lowering the level of environmental protection;
  • Enhance effectiveness of the directive through simplified and improved implementation;
  • Reduce the environmental impacts of collection, treatment and recovery of WEEE at levels providing the greatest benefit to society.

WEEE Categories of Electrical and Electronic Equipment

1. Large household appliances
2. Small household appliances
3. IT and telecommunications equipment
4. Consumer equipment
5. Lighting equipment
6. Electrical and electronic tools (with the exception of large-scale stationary industrial tools)
7. Toys, leisure and sports equipment
8. Medical devices (with the exception of all implanted and infected products)
9. Monitoring and control instruments
10. Automatic dispensers

Sources and Further Reading


Abhishek Shah

No Responses so far | Have Your Say!