WEEE Compliance: what is it?

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, which was first introduced in 2007, governs how manufacturers and retailers in European countries behave in regards to recycling.

The regularly-updated WEEE directive is designed to ensure that less harmful electrical waste is sent to landfill; though the regulations don’t directly affect consumers, they do ultimately make it simpler for you to recycle your old electrical goods.

WEEE Compliance is proof of reuse or treatment by an authorised treatment facility (ATF) and does this in line with the WEEE Directives.

Compliance and the directive is divided into two groups: Firstly, what is known as Non-Obligated WEEE, this is where Companies (B2B) who have purchased equipment need to dispose of the WEEE in line with the WEEE Directive, using an Environment Agency Accredited ATF.

Secondly, what is known as Obligated, this is slightly more complicated but is proof of reuse or treatment by an ‘approved’ authorised treatment facility (AATF) and does this in line with the WEEE Directives.

An AATF evidences material that has come from Producers of the equipment and is generally from households (B2C).

An AATF can issue evidence on UK WEEE that is: refurbished for reuse or treated.

Evidence can be issued on: household WEEE (also known as business to consumer (B2C), when it’s separately collected for a producer compliance scheme (PCS) by a designated collection facility (DCF), a distributor, or under a system set up to accept WEEE from final holders.

Alternatively, non-household WEEE (also known as business to business (B2B), when it’s collected by a PCS for non-household members, or by the non-household producer who, with agreement from their PCS, collect WEEE direct from customers.

Household and non-household WEEE collected in these ways is ‘obligated WEEE’ and you can’t issue evidence on ‘non-obligated WEEE’.

WEEE categories, recovery and recycling targets

WEEE Categories are used for evidencing obligated WEEE and these for part of the WEEE settlement requirements for understanding recycling rates in the UK and Europe.

Put simply, Producers who manufacture electrical equipment have a responsibility to recycle a percentage of material. This percentage is governed by production and recycling rates of the previous years.

Producers are compelled to join Producer Compliance Schemes (PCS) who manage the scheme which is made up of producers and Approved Authorised Treatment Facilities (AATF).

Recovery and recycling targets for categories of WEEE in the period 1 January 2016 until 31 December 2018
Category Description Recovery Recycling
1 Large household appliances 85% 80%
2 Small household appliances 75% 55%
3 IT and telecommunications equipment 80% 70%
4 Consumer equipment 80% 70%
5 Lighting equipment 75% 55%
6 Electrical and electronic tools (with the exception of large-scale stationary industrial tools) 75% 55%
7 Toys, leisure and sports equipment 75% 55%
8 Medical devices (with the exception of all implanted and infected products) 75% 75%
9 Monitoring and control instruments 75% 55%
10 Automatic dispensers 85% 80%
11 Display Screens 80% 70%
12 Cooling Appliances 85% 80%
13 Gas Discharge lamps and LED light sources no target 80%
14 Photovoltaic 80% 70%

To remain compliant, you need to keep site input and output records of WEEE or WEEE derived materials that are: received or sent to a third party site for recovery and recycling.

Where materials are sent to a third party you must maintain an audit trail which demonstrates that they are achieving the recovery and recycling targets.

The evidence needed to demonstrate that the targets have been met may vary depending on the WEEE and treatment activity.

For example, with some mixed WEEE waste streams, it may be enough to assume all the metal content is recycled.

The acceptable audit process is based on a mass balance of inputs and outputs from AATF sites. If you can show you have met the targets in another way that better suits you, that is acceptable.

Meeting the targets is a condition of AATF approval and if you can’t show you are meeting the targets, your AATF approval may be suspended.