Many manufacturers selling industrial products into the EU market have come to understand at least one of the environmental protection Directives, RoHS — the “restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances.” In this post, I’m going to be looking at another environmental directive: WEEE — the “Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment” Directive (2012/19/EU).
As of 14 August 2018...ALL waste electrical and electronic equipment comes under the directive.
This directive exempted industrial products in the first years of its implementation, focusing primarily on waste consumer electronics and electrical equipment. As of 14 August 2018, the transition period ends and ALL waste electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) comes under the directive, except those specific classes exempted in Articles 3 & 4. How does this affect machine builders and manufacturers of other kinds of products? Read on for the answer to these questions and more.
What is WEEE?
Key to understanding the application of this directive is understanding what constitutes WEEE, and to understand that, we need to know how electrical and electronic equipment is defined. The directive defines EEE as:
- ‘electrical and electronic equipment’ or ‘EEE’
- 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; 
Building on that definition is the definition for WEEE:
- ‘waste electrical and electronic equipment’ or ‘WEEE’
- electrical or electronic equipment which is waste within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2008/98/EC, including all components, sub-assemblies and consumables which are part of the product at the time of discarding; 
Any EEE that reaches end-of-life becomes waste EEE when it is decommissioned and dismantled. This waste material is WEEE.
Many industrial products are now included in this definition, as are some types of medical devices, scientific instruments, and similar products.
Many industrial products are now included in this definition, as are some types of medical devices, scientific instruments, and similar products. Exclusions include equipment powered by other means, like gasoline (petrol, benzene) or diesel fuelled engines, and steam-powered equipment. If your product contains batteries, there is a separate Batteries Directive which I will cover in a future article.
Since the exclusions are as important as the inclusions, let’s have a look at those.
[1, Art. 2(3) and (4)] provide exclusions for certain classes of products:
3. This Directive shall not apply to any of the following EEE:
a) equipment which is necessary for the protection of the essential interests of the security of Member States, including arms, munitions and war material intended for specifically military purposes;
b) 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;
c) filament bulbs.
4. In addition to the equipment specified in paragraph 3, from 15 August 2018, this Directive shall not apply to the following EEE:
a) equipment designed to be sent into space;
b) large-scale stationary industrial tools;
c) large-scale fixed installations, except any equipment which is not specifically designed and installed as part of those installations;
d) means of transport for persons or goods, excluding electric two-wheel vehicles which are not type-approved;
e) non-road mobile machinery made available exclusively for professional use;
f) equipment specifically designed solely for the purposes of research and development that is only made available on a business-to-business basis;
g) 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.
To understand the preceding list, we need to have a few more definitions [1, art.3 (1)]:
- ‘large-scale stationary industrial tools’
- means a large size assembly of machines, equipment, and/or components, functioning together for a specific application, permanently installed and de-installed by professionals at a given place, and used and maintained by professionals in an industrial manufacturing facility or research and development facility;
- ‘large-scale fixed installation’
- means a large-size combination of several types of apparatus and, where applicable, other devices, which:
- are assembled, installed and de-installed by professionals;
- are intended to be used permanently as part of a building or a structure at a pre-defined and dedicated location; and
- can only be replaced by the same specifically designed equipment;
- ‘non-road mobile machinery’
- means machinery, with on-board power source, the operation of which requires either mobility or continuous or semi-continuous movement between a succession of fixed working locations while working;
When it comes to “research and development equipment, the FAQ sheds important light:
As per Article 2(4)(f) of the Directive, equipment specifically designed solely for the purposes of research and development (R&D) that is only made available on a business-to-business basis is excluded from the scope of the Directive to help reduce unnecessary burdens on research, scientific advancement, development and innovation in the EU.
Standard equipment, such as monitoring devices or instruments for chemical analysis and other laboratory equipment, that can be used both for R&D applications and in commercial or other applications, does not benefit from this exclusion. Neither does the exclusion apply to equipment designed and placed on the market to test, validate or monitor R&D equipment and/or prototypes.
Examples of EEE that may benefit from this R&D exclusion include:
- non-finished products such as prototype or sample/test EEE (these products are still part of the development and pre-production process and not marketed).
- In-house custom built ‘development vehicles’ used solely for the development, testing, validation and evaluation of such non-finished products, including the evaluation of regulatory compliance, product performance and determination of customer acceptability.
This type of EEE belongs to the conceptual, developmental, design or pre-production stage and is as such designed for R&D use.
If your product is covered by the directive, you will need to understand the what you need to do to comply.
How to Comply with WEEE
The first thing to know is that, unlike the RoHS Directive, the WEEE Directive is NOT a CE Marking directive and should not be included in the Declaration of Conformity for your products.
The WEEE Directive requires manufacturers to set up a system in Europe to accept WEEE from any source and arrange for the appropriate disposal of that product. Manufacturers are organizations making products in any jurisdiction and placing those products on the EU Market in one or more member states. Here’s the official definition of a producer [1, Art. 3(1)]:
(f) ‘producer’ means any natural or legal person who, irrespective of the selling technique used, including distance communication within the meaning of Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 1997 on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts (19):
(i) is established in a Member State and manufactures EEE under his own name or trademark, or has EEE designed or manufactured and markets it under his name or trademark within the territory of that Member State;
(ii) is established in a Member State and resells within the territory of that Member State, under his own name or trademark, equipment produced by other suppliers, a reseller not being regarded as the ‘producer’ if the brand of the producer appears on the equipment, as provided for in point (i);
(iii) is established in a Member State and places on the market of that Member State, on a professional basis, EEE from a third country or from another Member State; or
(iv) sells EEE by means of distance communication directly to private households or to users other than private households in a Member State, and is established in another Member State or in a third country.
Whoever exclusively provides financing under or pursuant to any finance agreement shall not be deemed to be a ‘producer’ unless he also acts as a producer within the meaning of points (i) to (iv);
If your organization manufactures a product in the EU but exports 100% of the production to non-EU markets, then your organization is not considered to be a manufacturer for the purposes of the WEEE Directive, however, if any portion of the production is sold within the EU, the company is a considered to be a producer under EU WEEE regulations.
Products included under the WEEE Directive must bear the WEEE Mark:
As long as a producer continues to sell products in any EU Member State they are obligated to continue to collect and recycle waste materials.
Manufacturers are required to register with the National Authority in each Member State where they market products. The contact points for every Member State are published online through the Europa.eu website. Each Member State authorises private organisations to register producers and to collect and prepare materials for recycling.
Identifying and tracking producers is the first step towards an effective producer responsibility policy, which is one the Directive’s strategies. National Registers serve to register producers and to collect information on the quantities and categories of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) put on their market, as well as the amounts of WEEE collected, recycled, recovered and exported.
Collecting information on the quantities of EEE placed on the market gives Member States an indication of the amount of WEEE, they are likely to have to manage. The information on WEEE – collected, recovered, recycled – is essential in order to monitor compliance with the Directive’s objectives. 
Below is contact information for two of the recycling industry’s associations who can assist you with registration, collection and reporting:
European Electronics Recyclers Association
Pels Rijckenstraat 5
6814 DK Arnhem
+ 31 (0)26 370 20 08
BluePoint conference and business centre
Boulevard Auguste Reyerslaan 80
Phone +32 2 706 87 01
Once a producer is registered in the EU Member States where they market products, the next step is the collection of WEEE materials. The collection companies will receive the WEEE, log the weight of materials collected and the producer who should receive credit.
Following collection, the material is dismantled and the materials are sorted for resale to companies who can recover the materials and prepare them for reuse.
3. Annual Reporting
When you arrange for collection services through a collection company, they will maintain an inventory of the materials collected on your behalf. This inventory must be submitted each year in each member state.
Need More Help?
If you need more help with WEEE, there are a few resources you can turn to:
Official EU WEEE FAQ
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If the FAQ doesn’t help, here are a few more points of contact where you can get answers:
- WEEE Contacts page on europa.eu for the most current information
- EU National Authorities contacts (see below)
- The European European WEEE Registers Network (EWRN)
- Email the WEEE Contact Point at the EU Commission:
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 “DIRECTIVE 2012/19/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 4 July 2012 on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) (recast) (Text with EEA relevance)” [online], European Commission, Brussels, 2012. Available: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32012L0019. Accessed: 2018-07-02.
 “European WEEE Registers Network: Why National Registers?”, Ewrn.org, 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.ewrn.org/national-registers/why-national-registers/. [Accessed: 03- Jul- 2018].
 Advanced Design of Recycling Machines, Processing of WEEE. 2018.