WEEE: Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

What is WEEE?

WEEE is another way of referring to e-waste, standing for ‘Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment’. It encompasses a wide variety of discarded electrical and electronic devices ranging from common consumer products such as refrigerators, washing machines, and cell phones to more specialized equipment like medical devices and IT equipment.

The importance of managing WEEE properly is due to its rapid growth as one of the fastest-growing waste streams globally, driven by the increasing consumption of electronic goods, shorter product life cycles, and advances in technology that render older devices obsolete. This type of waste poses significant environmental and health risks due to the hazardous materials they can contain, such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, which can leach into soil and water, causing widespread environmental contamination if not properly disposed of or treated.

To address these issues, many countries have implemented regulations that require the collection, treatment, recycling, and recovery of electronic waste.

EU Legislation

The European Union has taken significant steps to address the environmental impact of waste electrical and electronic equipment through the implementation of the WEEE Directive (Directive 2012/19/EU).

This sets collection, recycling, and recovery targets for electrical goods, imposing responsibilities on producers, distributors, and consumers to prevent WEEE from ending up in landfills or being incinerated without energy recovery.

Who is affected by the EU WEEE Directive?

The European Union’s WEEE Directive primarily impacts the producers of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), since it is based on the Extended Producer Responsibility (ERP) principle. This principle means a paradigm shift in how product life cycles are managed, particularly at their end-of-use phase. It mandates that producers are not only responsible for the design and manufacturing of EEE but also for the environmental impacts of their products once they become waste.

Under the WEEE Directive, producers are defined as any natural or legal person who, irrespective of the selling technique used, falls under the following categories:




While established in a European Member State, manufacture EEE under their own brand, or have it designed and manufactured and then sell it under their name or trademark within the Member State’s territory.


While established in a European Member State, resell EEE made by other suppliers but branded as their own.


While established in a European Member State, place, on a professional basis, EEE in that territory from a third country or from another European Member State.

Distance sellers

While established in another European Member State or a third country, sell directly to private households or to users other than private households in a Member State.

Which are the responsibilities of WEEE producers?

In the intricate landscape of WEEE compliance, producers are confronted with a series of fundamental responsibilities. These include registering with national authorities, accurately reporting the volumes of products introduced to the market, ensuring environmentally responsible disposal of products at their life’s end, and covering the costs associated with the collection, treatment, recycling, and recovery of electronic waste. 

To facilitate a clearer understanding of these requirements, we’ve prepared a concise visual summary that outlines the primary obligations under the WEEE Directive:


1. Registration
Register in each EU Member State where products are sold.
2. Collection Systems
Set up or contribute to WEEE collection systems, covering take-back, treatment, and responsible disposal.
3. Financing
Cover costs for e-waste collection, treatment and recycling, either individually or through collective programs.
4. Reporting
Report to national authorities on the amounts of EEE placed on the market, as well as the quantities of waste collected and treated.
5. Providing Information
Publish instructions for proper disposal and collection systems; Display WEEE registration number on invoices; Make available recycling & dismantling guides; Provide instructions for treatment facilities…
6. Product Marking
Label EEE products with the crossed-out wheeled bin symbol, adhering to additional country-specific requirements.
7. Country-Specific Plans
Comply with specific national requirements, such as prevention and eco-design plans in France or three-year waste management plans in Ireland.
Key obligations under the WEEE Directive are highlighted, but not exhaustive. Schedule a free 15-minute call for a tailored compliance assessment.
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Please note that this summary provides a snapshot of the core responsibilities; but the full spectrum of obligations can extend beyond these, depending on specific circumstances and regulatory nuances.

For a comprehensive understanding of your unique compliance landscape, our tailored Obligation Assessment Service offers in-depth analysis and guidance.


What is the scope of the WEEE Directive?

In the evolving landscape of environmental legislation, the consolidated version of the Directive (from now on ‘WEEE2’), effective from the 15th of August, 2018, marked a significant shift towards simplification and broadened scope in the classification of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE).

WEEE2 has simplified the previously more detailed categorization into six broad categories, as outlined in its Annex III:

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