Revised rules on WEEE

Posted: 21st August 2012

Electrical wasteElectrical equipment is the fastest growing category of rubbish across the European Union (EU). It is estimated that by 2020, twelve million tonnes will be produced annually.

In February 2003, the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive came into force, introducing producer responsibility for the collection and recycling of WEEE, with consumers able to return used items free of charge. The Directive was implemented in the UK by the WEEE Regulations 2006, which came into force in January 2007. The current target is for member states to collect a minimum of 4kg of waste per person per year.

The WEEE Directive has now been recast, introducing revised targets that should see the amount of WEEE collected rise to around 20kg per person by 2020. Member states have until 14 February 2014 to bring national laws into line with the new rules.

From 2016, member states will be required to collect for approved recycling or disposal 45 tonnes of WEEE for every 100 tonnes of electronic equipment sold. The target rises to 65 per cent from 2019, or 85 per cent of the volume of electronic waste generated.

In addition, from 2018 the scope of the Directive is likely to be extended to cover all categories of WEEE.

By February 2014 at the latest, retailers of electrical items with a shop space of at least 400 square metres will have to provide facilities for customers to return small items free of charge or show that they have an alternative system in place that is as effective.

In 2011, the UK collected 34.4 tonnes of WEEE for every 100 tonnes of electrical equipment placed on the market, so improvements will have to be made to the current system in order to meet the revised targets. There will also be tougher measures to prevent the illegal export of WEEE.