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This article applies to selling in: United Kingdom

Recycle Electrical or Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

If you are selling electrical or electronic equipment (EEE), you may be subject to the European Directive 2012/19/EU (WEEE Directive) concerning the collection and recycling of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and the national laws implementing this Directive. In the following, you can find a short overview of the WEEE legislation and how this affects you as a seller.

What is the WEEE Directive?

The purpose of this Directive is to prevent the creation of WEEE, to reduce the disposal of waste into the environment, and to contribute to the efficient use of resources and the retrieval of valuable secondary raw materials. Therefore, the WEEE Directive aims at involving all operators taking part in the life cycle of EEE, for example, producers, distributors and consumers, in the collection and treatment of WEEE. The WEEE Directive lays down the essential criteria on the management of WEEE and the responsibility of producers, and creates minimum standards for the treatment of WEEE.

Since this Directive only lays down the minimum standards and each Member State of the EU implements these standards in its own laws, there can be discrepancies between the national regulations. Please inform yourself about the applicable national laws for every EU Member State you deliver to; we can only provide you with a broad overview for Germany, UK, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

What products does the WEEE Directive apply to?

The WEEE Directive is meant to cover all EEE used by consumers and EEE intended for professional use.

Note: This overview does not cover obligations regarding the sale of EEE to professional users.

Specifically, the WEEE Directive applies to any equipment powered by electricity or through electromagnetic fields and designed for use with voltage <1000 volts AC and <1500 volts DC. You can find the (few) products with exceptions in Article 2 of the WEEE Directive.

For whom does the WEEE Directive create obligations?

The Directive places obligations on both producers and distributors, which includes mere sellers. Many EEE sellers will be considered producers for the purpose of the Directive. Furthermore, you can be a mere seller in one Member State and, at the same time, a producer in a different Member State:

  • If you are not established in the Member State to which you dispatch products, for that Member State, you are a producer
  • If you are established in the Member State to which you dispatch products, you are still a producer for that Member State if you offer:
    • Your own branded EEE products
    • EEE products which you import into that state; or
    • EEE products w/o manufacturer labelling (generic items)

National WEEE laws may define additional sellers as producers (see below).

What obligations do producers have?

All producers must in particular:

  • Have/establish a branch in each EU Member State they dispatch to or appoint an authorised representative who is based in the Member State in order to interact with the national WEEE authority.
  • Register with the national WEEE authorities in the shipping destination country for each product type and brand.
  • Provide a guarantee when placing a product on the Member State's market showing that the management of all WEEE will be financed (this guarantee may, in some Member States, be replaced by participation by the producer in appropriate schemes for the financing of the management of WEEE, recycling insurance or a blocked bank account).
  • Report to the national WEEE authorities the amount of EEE products placed on the Member State's market, the products dispatched abroad from there and the products taken back from customers.
  • Label all EEE products in a durable, indelible fashion, i.e. not just by flag, with the wheelie bin symbol including the date mark (as per EN50419).
  • Identify the producer on the product.
  • Provide information (in the form of manuals or by electronic media) to any person carrying out treatment activities on the reuse and environmentally sound treatment for each new type of product you put on the market.
  • Provide information to customers on WEEE.
  • Provide take-back services for the electronics that are sold to customers. The responsibility to take back WEEE products is one of the main obligations resulting from the Directive. In this regard, the WEEE Directive differentiates between the obligations for producers and sellers. However, it is up to the Member States to detail the specific requirements.

Member states have some room to implement the Directive in different ways. Below you will find an overview of such country-specific rules on WEEE for Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

For more detailed information, please visit the website of the relevant national register; for an overview, see here.

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