With the directive 2012/19/EU of the European Parliament and of the council on the 4th July of 2012, a new legislative base for the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) has been created.
Starting with the 15th of August 2018 the so-called transitional period, defined in this document ends. This has massive repercussions, as we will discuss here.
In general, it is necessary for anyone who manufactures and /or sells electronic devices anywhere into the EU (including cables!) to become acquainted with this directive, and the resulting obligations.
For instance, previously furniture with integrated electronic light was outside of the scope of this legislation. Now it is inside the scope (open scope, see below).
I am not a lawyer, the information herein is not legal advice, please get acquainted with the material on your own. I do not take any responsibility for the information herein. This being said, I have carefully researched it and am pretty confident about what I am saying here.
- EEE = Electrical and Electronic Equipment
- WEEE = Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment
- I will use “WEEE directive” to refer to the aforementioned directive and legislation resulting from it.
Open Scope: or what do we need to report?
Previously, the WEEE directive had a closed scope.
That means, that only the devices which were falling into specific predefined categories, and which were not exempted, had to be reported.
You can see this in ANNEX I (page 16 of the PDF) – for instance Automatic dispensers, IT and telecommunications equipment, etc.
As of the 15th of August 2018 it will switch into the open scope.
This means that all devices which are deemed to be an EEE (Electrical and Electronic Equipment) have to be reported, unless they are explicitly exempted.
picture source: EU WEEE FAQ PDF
From the open-scope period onwards, EEE is only out of scope if it falls under one of the exclusions explicitly mentioned in Article 2, paragraphs (3) and (4).
– WEEE FAQ
How is an EEE defined?
EEEs are defined in Article 3 (1) (a) of the WEEE directive:
‘electrical and electronic equipment’ or ‘EEE’ means equipment which is dependent on electric currents or electromagnetic fields in order to work properly and equipment for the generation, transfer and measurement of such currents and fields and designed for use with a voltage rating not exceeding 1 000 volts for alternating current and 1 500 volts for direct current;
this basically includes everything which requires electric currents or electromagnetic fields to operate.
For instance it includes:
- RFID tags (because they require electromagnetic fields to operate)
- USB cables (because they are equipment for the transfer of such currents)
- printer cartridges with electrical parts (yes!)
I quote the FAQ PDF here:
Thus, printer cartridges which contain electrical parts and are dependent on electric currents or electromagnetic fields in order to function properly fall within the scope of the Directive.
What is not included per this definition (examples)?
- lawnmowers operating on gas
- gas stoves with electronic ignition only (as the equipment does not need electricity to fulfill its basic function, but only requires the spark to start)
picture source: EU WEEE FAQ PDF
What exceptions are made?
The WEEE directive defines several exceptions:
military and national security usage
if the equipment is not to be sold on the general market !; to protect security interests
“equipment which is specifically designed and installed as part of another type of equipment that is excluded from or does not fall within the scope of this Directive, which can fulfil its function only if it is part of that equipment;”
that is devices which can’t be used standalone, but are needed exclusively for one of the other categories here; they can’t be used for any other purpose, otherwise they’re not exempted anymore.
because they are being phased out anyways
equipment designed to be sent into space
it should not have any use on the ground, though, otherwise it will fall under the directive!
Large-scale stationary industrial tools
these tools have to be permanently installed by professionals in an industrial manufacturing facility or R&D facility; the EWRN suggests > 2 tons & minimum of 15,625 m3 volume
Large-scale fixed installations
e.g. airport luggage transport systems, elevators, oil platforms
means of transport for persons or goods excluding electric twowheel vehicles which are not type-approved
lorries, cars, boats, airplanes,
but not e.g. electric toy cars (foremost function: toy) or electric bike which is not type-approved
Non-road mobile machinery made available exclusively for professional use
This equipment should be sold B2B only; Examples: forklifts, lawn mowers (the electric kind), street sweepers, mobile cranes.
It does not apply to e.g. a concrete mixer “because it can be moved from one construction site to another”
Equipment specifically designed solely for the purposes of research and development (R&D) that is only made available on a business to business basis.
- it should only be available for B2B customers!
- it should not have any useful function for regular operations / manufacturing / caretaking! (e.g. a centrifuge or blood gas measuring devices)
This category is included in order not to place a burrden on research, scientific advancement, development and innovation in the EU.
I assume that for instance equipment specifically manufactured for the CERN and with no tangible use beyond that would fall under this category.
Medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices, where such devices are expected to be infective prior to end of life, and active implantable medical devices
The active implantable medical devices are exempted, so that the devices don’t have to be removed from human bodies after death. e.g. pacemakers
For the other devices the infective bit is important; Here only the part which actually does come into contact with body liquids is exempted, as it needs to be disposed of as infective waste.
For instance, the device monitoring a newly born baby is not considered infective, since it does not come into direct contact with the baby. It is attached to the electrode.
This electrode, which is attached to the baby’s head, though, is considered infective. The electrode, thus, is exempted from the WEEE.
Producer: who needs to report?
The WEEE directive defines a producer very broadly – it is not just the manufacturer.
You will basically need to report, if you are a natural or legal person and sell within the EU, and:
- if you manufacture EEEs, or have EEE’s manufactured within your EU Member state and market EEEs under your name or trademark within that EU member state
- if these are 100 % solely for export, you are not considered a producer in that Member state
- if you export and sell them in another member state, you will be considered a producer in that member state
- if you rebrand (whitelabel) other EEE products and sell them within your EU member state
- you are not regarded as a producer if the brand of the producer appears on the equipment
- you will be regarded as the producer though, if you import them from a third country or another EU member state
- if you import EEE from a third country or from another EU Member state, and sell them within your EU Member state
- that is, if you buy electronic equipment in Britain and sell it in Germany, you are considered the producer of the goods sold in Germany
- this is considered “Placing on the market” (“the first making available of a product on the market within the territory of a Member state on a professional basis”)
- if you sell “by means of distance communication” (e.g. online shop) to other EU Member states than your own / or from a third country
- it doesn’t matter whether you sell B2B or B2C, you will be considered a producer
- if your business is located in China, you fall under this definition – you need to register.
If you resell the goods of some manufacturer within the same member state, without rebranding them, you do not need to report them.
In any other case you will have to report.
an issue which still needs to be solved here is if you sell to a reseller within another member state … who reports. Otherwise, it will be reported twice.
What are your responsibilities?
This is an excerpt of the responsibilities! You will need to look at your state legislation to understand the full and precise extent of your responsibilities!
A distributor is any natural or legal person in the supply chain which makes an EEE available on the market. You can be distributor and producer at the same time, or just a distributor.
As a distributor you need to:
- ensure that products can be returned free of charge on a one-to-one basis as long as the equipment is of equivalent type & has fulfilled same functions as the supplied equipment
- if you have a retail shop with at least 400 m2 dedicated to EEEs, you need to provide for the collection of small WEEEs (< 25 cm in any dimension) free of charge to end-users, and with no obligation to buy any EEEs from you
As a producer you need to:
- provide for the financing of the collection, treatment, recovery and environmentally sound disposal of WEEE from private households
- for goods placed on the market later than 13th of August 2005, for your own products
- for goods placed on the market before that –> you will need to contribute proportionately in respect of your market share in that type of equipment
- also provide for the financing for users other than private households (didn’t think you would get out of that one, would you?) – at least for all goods placed since 13th of August 2005
- provide a guarantee that the management of the WEEE will be financed (participation in appropriate schemes, recycling insurance or blocked bank account)
- mark your products – preferably in accordance with the European standard EN 50419 (see below)
- register with the appropriate member states, where you are considered a producer.
- specifically, if you sell EEE by means of “distance communication” (online selling), you will need to register in the Member state you sell to.
- alternatively you can elect an authorised representative responsible for your duties in this other Member state
- provide information about preparation for re-use and treatment within one year after the equipment is placed on the market (Article 15, information for treatment facilities)
- report (see below)
If you do not meet your responsibilities, there will be penalties to ensure that you comply. You need to do all these things free of charge to customers, the regulatory bodies and other involved parties.
EN 50419: What do you need to put on your products?
- unique identification of the producer
- brand name or trademark or company registration number or any other suitable means to identify you
- the option which is chosen is recorded in the member’s state of register of producers
- include the crossed-out wheeled bin
- include the horizontal bar under the wheeled bin
These markings should be accessible, durable, legible and indelible.
(rub 15 s with a piece of cloth soaked with water, and again 15 s with a piece of cloth soaked with petroleum spirit to test)
As you can see in the image, you need to put the crossed-out wheeled bin, and the horizontal bar on your products.
The dimensions and proportions are clearly specified, h being a minimum of 1 mm.
The horizontal bar indicates that the device was manufactured after the 13th of August 2005.
If you can’t fit the necessary information on your device:
- include it on a flag on your device’s power supply cord (if present)
- include it in the operating instructions and warranty certificates (if supplied)
If you can’t put it anywhere else:
- put it on the packaging
It is your responsibility as a producer to ensure that the EEE you are selling is marked. You do not need to remark it.
If it is not marked, though, you must mark it.
Annex X, Part B – What information is registered for a producer?
When you register as a producer, the following information is stored:
- name and address of yourself or your authorised representative, including a contact person
- in the case of the authorised representative also your contact details
- national identification code of you – e.g. national tax number
- category you are registering (see below)
- type of EEE (household or other than household equipment)
- if the equipment can be used by households you should declare it as household.
- an X-Ray unit designed for the hospital, for instance, is considered non-household equipment
- brand name of EEE
- information how you meet your responsibilities:
- individual / collective scheme
- information on financial guarantee (see above – e.g. through an insurance)
- selling technique used
- e.g. distance selling (= online selling to other countries)
- declaration stating that the inforamtion provided is true.
Annex X, Part B – What do you need to report as producer?
- National identification code of you
- reporting period
- category of EEE (see below)
- quantity of EEE placed on the national market by weight and category
- quantity by weight of waste of EEE separately collected, recycled and disposed of withing the Member State or shipped within or outside the Union (by category)
What are the new categories, how are they defined?
Annex III of the WEEE directive defines six categories (which replace the 10 categories used before). Member states may define subcategories.
Refer to this fine document for clarification and plenty of examples.
1) Temperature exchange equipment
everything which uses something else than water for temperature exchange, e.g. refrigerators, heat pumps, etc.
2) Screens, monitors and equipment containing screens with a surface greater than 100 cm2
in this category it’s important to note that the display of information must be the primary function of the screen.
Notebooks are included in this category, whereas smartphones and phablets are not. Refer to this document for more examples.
LED, Fluorescent lamps, etc. Equipment for the generation of light.
4) Large equipment
Defined by any external dimension being greater than 50 cm. Cables, hoses, etc. are not considered in this; the product is folded, but must be in a status ready for use.
Examples: washing machines, clothes dryers, dish washing machines, musical equipment (excluding pipe organs installed in churches), large medical devices.
5) Small equipment
Any equipment not falling into any of the other five categories, must be Non-IT and all dimensions must be smaller than 50 cm.
Examples: Vacuum cleaners, carpet sewapers, Toasters, Irons, Small medical devices.
6) Small IT and telecommunication equipment
No external dimension should be more than 50 cm. Information equipment – used for collecting, transmitting, processing, storing and showing information.
Telecommunications equipment – to transmit signals (voice, video, data) over a certain distance.
Examples: mobile phones (smartphones, phablets). GPS, navigation equipment, routers, personal computers, printers, telephones.
- directive 2012/19/EU of the European Parliament and of the council (EN, PDF)
- WEEE FAQ (EN, PDF), highly recommended reading
- https://www.ewrn.org/fileadmin/ewrn/content/documents/170905_EWRN_Definition_6_categories_fin.pdf (EN, PDF)
- https://www.ewrn.org/publications-events/publications/new-weee2-exclusions/ (EN)
- http://www.bio-rad.com/webroot/web/pdf/general/eu_recycle/WEEE_Marking_EN.pdf (EN, PDF) about the EN 50419
- http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/weee/pdf/WEEE_Member_State_Contacts_June_2018.pdf (EN, PDF) –> contact information for the national authorities.
- https://www.weee-europe.com/files/weee_obligations_for_producers_-_open_scope_white_paper_weee_europe.pdf (EN, PDF)
- https://www.weee-full-service.com/system/files/document/20180628_%C3%9Cbersicht%20Ger%C3%A4tearten_Open%20Scope_B2C%20und%20B2B_0.pdf (DE, PDF)
- https://www.weee-full-service.com/system/files/document/180119_WEEE_Grafik_Entscheidungsbaum_0.pdf (DE, PDF) Entscheidungsbaum