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Summary

The WEEE Directive (2012/19/EU) aims to reduce the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment that ends up in landfill.

The directive may require changes throughout the Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) product cycle, including improved product design to ease dismantling, recycling and reuse. In addition, the directive includes the provision of national WEEE collection points and processing systems, which allows consumers to put WEEE into a separate waste stream to other waste, resulting in it being processed, accounted for and reported to the national enforcement authority. Producers are expected to meet the cost of the collection and processing of WEEE. The implementation of a national WEEE scheme requires involvement from national and local government, EEE manufacturers, distributors, vendors and consumers. Most EEE is covered by the Directive but there are specific exclusions, for example, large scale industrial tools and products designed for military use.

To comply with WEEE regulations, producers must join a Producer Compliance Scheme, which provides a link between producers and environment agencies as well a number of services, which enables WEEE to be effectively and economically recycled or reused. New EEE placed on the market must be marked with certain information to allow for correct disposal by the end user. Also information must be made available to treatment facilities so new products can be efficiently reprocessed.

Purpose

The European Parliament and EU Council have set the goal of reducing the amount of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) going to landfill and reducing the hazardous substance content of Electronic and Electrical Equipment (EEE). This is in light of the fact that WEEE is Europe's fastest growing waste stream - growing at three times the rate of other wastes.

With regard to WEEE, this goal should be achieved through a much more environmentally aware approach to all aspects of the EEE product cycle, including improved product design to allow for ease of dismantling (for recycling or re-use). However, more significantly the WEEE Directive stipulates that provision for comprehensive separate WEEE collection and processing systems must be created and used. These allow WEEE to be easily returned by consumers, then collected, transported and processed effectively and economically. The financing of such schemes falls mainly on the producers, although consumers will inevitably see the effects of the proposal in slightly raised product costs. Distinction is made between 'private households' and 'users other than private households', to ensure that no additional costs are incurred by private households when disposing of WEEE.