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Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

Explains the laws and where to find more information on disposing of electrical and electronic equipment safely.

Electrical and electronic equipment covers many products such as:

  • large and small household appliances like fridges and kettles
  • consumer equipment like TVs, radios and DVD players.

The term also applies to power tools, fluorescent lights and children’s toys.

Items which do not use electricity as their main source of power, like gas cookers, are not included.

When these products reach the end of their lives they will be discarded and become waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Many waste electrical goods contain hazardous substances which can pose a risk to human health and the environment if they are not disposed of correctly.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013 came into force in the UK on 1/1/14 and replaced the 2006 regulations. The regulations provide for all WEEE that arises to be collected at designated collection facilities and transported to an approved authorised treatment facility or approved exporter for treatment, recovery, recycling or reuse.

The regulations also provide for the registration of all producers who put EEE on the market in the UK and for the establishment and financing by producers of systems to collect, treat, recover and dispose of WEEE that arises in the UK. Distributors are required to take back certain types of WEEE free of charge, and provide for the approval of designated collection facilities, producer compliance schemes, authorised treatment facilities and exporters.

Details of the regulations can be found on the UK Legislation website.

Government Guidance can be found on the UK Government website.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (2002/96/EC)

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (external link) aims to promote re-use, recycling and recovery of WEEE. It does this by encouraging producers and manufacturers of EEE to set up collection systems and take-back schemes. So the amount of WEEE sent to landfill is reduced.

The Directive seeks to improve the environmental performance of producers by encouraging them to design products that can be easily repaired, dismantled and recovered, re-used and recycled. It also requires that new EEE is labelled with the crossed-out wheeled bin symbol to inform users of EEE not to dispose of WEEE to landfill.

Some of the main requirements of the WEEE Directive include:

  • to set up systems to encourage separate collection of WEEE and allow the return of WEEE free of charge to the final holder
  • retailers to ensure that WEEE is taken back on a one to one basis when a new, equivalent type product is supplied
  • manufactures are encouraged to design and produce products that can easily be re-used, recovered and recycled
  • reduce the amount of WEEE going to landfill
  • European Union Member States must achieve a collection rate of at least 4 kilograms of WEEE on average per inhabitant per year.

In December 2008, the Commission published proposals for updating the WEEE Directive. In April 2009, the UK held a public consultation on the Commission proposals. This was a joint consultation on the WEEE Directive and the restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment (ROHS) Directive. The responses to the consultation were used to inform the UK negotiations.

After negotiations, a final Directive was agreed and published on 24 July 2012. We held a joint consultation on the updates to the WEEE Directive between 17 April 2013 and 21 June.

BIS is the lead UK Government Department for the implementation of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. 

Environment Agency – Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

This site has information on:

  • the WEEE Directive
  • advice for businesses
  • responsibilities and obligations under the WEEE Regulations for producers, importers and retailers.

Visit: Environment Agency – Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (external link)

WEEE consumers Information

This site has information for consumers on:

  • recycling electrical items
  • why it is important to recycle
  • what can be recycled
  • retailer ‘take-back’ schemes for small electrical items.

Visit: WEEE consumers information (external link)

European Commission – WEEE

This site has information from the European Commission on the WEEE Directive and other legislation.

Visit: European Commission – WEEE (external link)

Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) Distributor Enforcement

This site has information for businesses. It is directed at those who have responsibility for ensuring that retailers and distributors of electrical equipment help UK households dispose of electrical and electronic items when they reach the end of their life.

Visit: Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) Distributor Enforcement (external link)

Distributor Takeback Scheme

This site has information for businesses about the Distributor Takeback Scheme (external link). Through this scheme, they can make a financial contribution, which can help develop WEEE collection facilities.