Are You Ready? WEEE Directive Full Implementation Starts 15-Aug-18

Processing of waste electrical and electronic materials

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; [1]

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; [1]

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.

Exclusions

[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:
  1. are assem­bled, installed and de-installed by pro­fes­sion­als;
  2. are intend­ed to be used per­ma­nent­ly as part of a build­ing or a struc­ture at a pre-defined and ded­i­cat­ed loca­tion; and
  3. 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:

The Waste Electrical and Electronic materials mark. A line drawing of an industrial wheeled waste bin with a double cross-out.
The Waste Elec­tri­cal and Elec­tron­ic mate­ri­als 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.

 1. Registration

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. [2]

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
https://www.eera-recyclers.com/

Pels Rijck­en­straat 5
6814 DK Arn­hem
The Nether­lands

+ 31 (0)26 370 20 08
secretariat@eera-recyclers.com


WEEE Forum 
http://www.weee-forum.org

Blue­Point con­fer­ence and busi­ness cen­tre
Boule­vard Auguste Rey­er­slaan 80
B-1030 Brus­sels
Bel­gium

Phone +32 2 706 87 01

2. Collection

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

Contact Points

If the FAQ doesn’t help, here are a few more points of con­tact where you can get answers:

  1. WEEE Con­tacts page on europa.eu for the most cur­rent infor­ma­tion
  2. EU Nation­al Author­i­ties con­tacts (see below)
  3. The Euro­pean Euro­pean WEEE Reg­is­ters Net­work (EWRN)
  4. Email the WEEE Con­tact Point at the EU Com­mis­sion: 
    ENV-WEEE@ec.europa.eu

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References

[1]     “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.

[2]     “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].

[3]     Advanced Design of Recy­cling Machines, Pro­cess­ing of WEEE. 2018.

Author: Doug Nix

Doug Nix is Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Compliance InSight Consulting, Inc. (http://www.complianceinsight.ca) in Kitchener, Ontario, and is Lead Author and Senior Editor of the Machinery Safety 101 blog. Doug's work includes teaching machinery risk assessment techniques privately and through Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Kitchener, Ontario, as well as providing technical services and training programs to clients related to risk assessment, industrial machinery safety, safety-related control system integration and reliability, laser safety and regulatory conformity. For more see Doug's LinkedIn profile.