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Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment


The UK Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations implement the main the provisions of the European WEEE Directive. The broad aim is to addrress the environmental impacts of unwanted electrical and electronic equipment at end of life disposal.

Overview

The WEEE Directive is one of a small number of European Directives that implement the principle of “extended producer responsibility”. Under this principle, producers are required to take financial responsibility for the environmental impact of the products that they place on the market, specifically when those products become waste. It seeks to reduce the amount of such waste going to landfill by encouraging separate collection and subsequent treatment, re-use, recovery, recycling and environmentally sound disposal.

The UK Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2006 (as amended) implement the main provisions of the EC's WEEE Directive. The scope covers a wide range of products intended for household and/or commercial use that are dependent on electrical currents or electromagnetic fields to work properly.

The obligations placed on producers of equipment and waste treatment facilities are enforced in England and Wales by the Environment Agency for England and Wales (EA), in Scotland by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and in Northern Ireland by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) enforces the obligations placed on distributors and the requirement placed on producers to mark their equipment with the “crossed out wheeled bin” symbol.

Am I Affected

The WEEE Regulations place legal obligations on the following types of organisations that handle electrical equipment:

  • Producers of household and non-household equipment (ie, manufacturers, professional importers or re-branders)
  • Distributors to household-end users (eg retailers, internet and other distance sellers)
  • Business end-users of electrical equipment
  • WEEE treatment facilities
  • Exporters of WEEE

The requirements apply to all businesses irrespective of size. There are no exemptions for small and medium sized companies. In addition the Regulations also impact on local authorities, waste management companies and household consumers of electrical and electonic equipment.

BIS has produced detailed guidance to help you determine whether the Regulations impact on you and where necessary what you must do to meet your legal obligations. The Environment Agency also offers detailed guidance to producers and treatment facilities and VCA provides advice to distributors.

In addition advice to business is also available on www.businesslink.gov

Advice to Consumers

All retailers of electrical equipment must support recycling  – many provide funding for local authority collection facilities, others take back waste electrical equipment in their stores.

There are two easy ways to avoid house clutter and get rid of old electricals without throwing them in the bin:

  • drop them off at your local recycling centre. All local authorities across the UK now have dedicated facilities for collecting waste electrical goods.  
  • Some retailers will take back your old electrical item in store, when you purchase a new item from them (but note that not all shops do this).

 Visit Recycle Now for more information on recycling electrical equipment:

Latest Developments

The WEEE Advisory Body was abolished on 30 September 2010 as part of the wider programme announced by the Government to reduce the number of non-departmental public bodies.

A revised Code of Practice for the collection of WEEE from Designated Collection Facilities was published in July 2010 after consultation with all key stakeholders. 

Revisions to the existing WEEE Directive are currently subject to negotiations in Europe.

Contact Us

Email weee@bis.gsi.gov.uk for further information on the UK WEEE Regulations.