WEEE Directive (recast) Implementation (UK & Ireland)

The EC Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) 2002/96/EC (in force and implemented) aims to reduce the environmental impacts of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) when it reaches the end of life.

In the UK, the Department of the Environment (NI) in conjunction with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Britain) and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Britain) has established a UK-wide system to transpose the Directive through the WEEE Regulations.

In the UK, the WEEE Regulations require:
– producers of EEE to fulfil their obligations relating to collection, treatment and recycling by joining an approved Producer Compliance Scheme;
– retailers or distributors of EEE to provide information to consumers about the environmental impact of EEE and WEEE and provide a free take system in-store on a ‘like for like’ basis or by joining a UK wide Distributor take-back Scheme.
– adherence to minimum recovery and recycling targets (between 50%-80%) for different types of WEEE;
– waste operators or exporters to issue evidence of tonnages of WEEE recycled. These operators are known as Approved Authorised Treatment Facilities and Approved Exporters.

In Ireland, the 2002 Directive is implemented by the European Communities (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 355 of 2011).

The Recast Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive 2012/19/EU was published on 24 July 2012 (entered into force on 13th August 2013), and has a transposition date of 14 February 2014. The Directive aims to further the prevention or minimisation of discarded electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) within the general waste stream, by improving the environmental performance of all operators involved in the lifecycle of EEE.

This is a useful link to the consultation exercises that have been conducted in Britain and in Northern Ireland and the associated documents.

The main changes introduced by the recast are:
– a wider scope for the range of products covered;
– an increased emphasis on re-use;
– the introduction of the concept of a producer’s authorised representative in an effort to lower the regulatory and cost burdens on business;
– new tools to fight the illegal export of WEEE more effectively;
– the introduction for the first time of a one for zero take back requirement with respect to small items of WEEE in retail outlets of a certain size;
– the introduction of higher Member State collection and recovery targets and a changed methodology for calculating the WEEE collection rate.

The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government in Ireland is now consulting on implementation (ROI).

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