Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment and Hazardous Waste – The European Directives

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment ( WEEE )

Under their ‘Summaries of Legislation’ , The European Commission publishes on their website a useful overview of the proposed legislation for the management of hazardous substances and electrical and electronic waste.   This gives manufacturers and those concerned in the supply or usage of such goods a good grounding in the thinking behind the proposed WEEE  Directive which is now being introduced into the UK and which is designed to take effect in a number of  stages over the next few years.

The overview gives a clear account of the scope of the Directive and its implication for product design, separate collection facilities, treatment, recovery, financing, information requirements, and reporting and penalties.

According to the overview, timescales for member countries to take up the Directive are as follows:

13 August 2004 – Producers (i.e. manufacturers) must state the weight of the electrical and electronic waste entering and leaving treatment and recovery or recycling facilities.  The Commission requires to lay down rules on compliance with recovery rate by weight of appliance.

13 August 2005 - Producers must provide for the financing of the collection, treatment, recovery and environmentally sound disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment. In the case of products placed on the market later than 13 August 2005, each producer is responsible for providing financing in respect of his own products. Such products must be marked with a symbol which can be used by private households to ensure that the products are not mixed with other waste.

31 December 2006 -  The rate of recovery by average weight per appliance must meet the required levels. A rate of separate collection of at least 4 kg on average per inhabitant per year of waste electrical and electronic equipment from private households must be achieved.

31 December 2008  - The European Parliament and the Council are to set new targets for recovery, recycling and reuse.

Restriction of the use of Hazardous Substances in EE (RoHS)

The summary also covers the Directive on the use of certain hazardous substances, which covers the same scope as the Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (except for medical devices and monitoring and control instruments). It also applies to electric light bulbs and luminaires in households.

By 13 February 2005, the Commission will review the provisions of the Directive, in particular as regards the feasibility of widening its scope and adapting the list of substances it covers so as to take account of new scientific facts.

From 1 July 2006, lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in electrical and electronic equipment must be replaced by other substances. Certain exceptions are specified in the annex to the Directive

Source: European Commission

           July 2003

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