The European Commission advises citizens and participants on the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) legislation was first adopted in 2002 to prevent or reduce adverse impacts on the environment and human health in the EU. The Commission has since evaluated and revised the Directive in 2012.
The first legislation on WEEE, Directive 2002/96/EC, was adopted in 2002, and ten years later the revised and reformed WEEE Directive was adopted, with the aim of providing a regulatory framework for collection and recycling that would include ambitious targets and encourage Member States to increase preparedness for reuse, to strengthen the incentive for resource efficiency in Europe.
The 2012 Directive also provided member states with tools to identify illegal waste exports more effectively. In addition, it provided for the harmonization of national registration and reporting requirements. The registers of producers of electrical and electronic equipment in the member states are more integrated, and an implementing regulation establishing a harmonized format has been adopted. And additional implementing regulations on joint actions were adopted to ensure uniform conditions.
WEEE is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the EU and globally. If not treated appropriately, it is dangerous and can have serious consequences for people and the environment. In addition, it contains precious and critical raw materials, the recovery of which is essential to support the circular economy and strengthen the strategic autonomy of the EU. In the years ahead, growing consumption and digitization will present ever-increasing challenges, so it is necessary to assess whether the WEEE Directive is fit for purpose.
The ongoing evaluation aims to assess how effectively the Directive has been applied and what its effect has been, to assess how it contributes to the general political goals of the European Green Plan and the Circular Economy Action Plan, and to identify gaps in its implementation. Depending on the findings of the evaluation, the Commission could then initiate the revision process of the Directive.
In the context of the evaluation, the Commission will evaluate the reduction of administrative burdens and the level of compliance achieved after the adoption of the implementing acts. In particular, the Commission is seeking feedback on the identification of equipment containing critical raw materials and on existing recycling practices for these materials. The assessment will also take into account international developments, such as the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
The Directive sets stricter collection and recovery/recycling targets. Separate collection of EE waste from unsorted municipal waste is necessary to ensure its proper processing, but remains a major challenge in most member states. As part of the evaluation, the Commission carried out a compliance promotion initiative to assess good practices and gaps in implementation, among the practices being the separate collection and procedures of WEEE.
The Directive will also be evaluated against the objectives set out in the European Green Plan and the Circular Economy Action Plan and will take into account all other relevant changes in EU environmental and waste policy (e.g. renewable energy policies, batteries, eco-design for sustainable products , restriction of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, waste vehicles, waste shipments, critical raw materials).
The safe and environmentally sound management of WEEE requires the involvement of a wide range of actors: producers of electrical and electronic equipment, producer responsibility organizations and extended producer responsibility programs, recyclers, entities involved in reuse and preparation for reuse, national governments, third country authorities that receive WEEE, non-governmental organizations as well as citizens.
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