Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive

The EC Directive on Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment ( 2002/96/EC ) aims to:

  • Restrict the use of heavy metals
  • Reduce the use of hazardous substances
  • Introduce the marking of components to support recycling
  • Encourage design to facilitate ease of dismantling, reuse, recovery and recycling
  • Obligate distributors to allow consumer 'take-back'

What is WEEE?

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations apply to electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) in the categories listed below with a voltage of up to 1000 volts for alternating current or up to 1500 volts for direct current.

You will need to comply with the WEEE Regulations if you generate, handle or dispose of waste that falls under one of ten categories of WEEE:

  1. Large household appliances (e.g. Refrigerators, washing machines, microwaves, electric radiators, air conditioner appliances)
  2. Small household appliances (e.g. vacuum cleaners, toasters, irons, clocks, scales, coffee machines)
  3. IT and telecommunications equipment (e.g. centralised data processing, printer units, personal computers (CPU, mouse, screen and keyboard included), pocket and desk calculators, cordless telephones)
  4. Consumer equipment (e.g. radio sets, televisions, electronic musical instruments, video recorders, audio amplifiers)
  5. Lighting equipment (e.g. luminaries for fluorescent lamps with the exception of luminaries in households; straight fluorescent lamps; compact fluorescent lamps; high intensity discharge lamps, including pressure sodium lamps and metal halide lamps; low pressure sodium lamps; other lighting or equipment for the purpose of spreading or controlling light with the exception of filament bulbs)
  6. Electrical and electronic tools (e.g. Drills, sewing machines, tools for mowing or other gardening activities, tools for riveting, nailing or screwing, equipment for spraying, spreading, dispersing or other treatment of liquid or gaseous substances by other means)
  7. Toys, leisure and sports equipment (e.g. electric trains or car racing sets, coin slot machines, hand-held video game consoles, video games, computers for biking, diving, running and rowing)
  8. Medical devices (e.g. Dialysis, freezers, nuclear medicine, pulmonary ventilators, radiotherapy equipment)
  9. Monitoring and control equipment (e.g. Smoke detector, thermostats, measuring, weighing or adjusting appliances for household or laboratory equipment, control panels for industrial installations)
  10. Automatic dispensers (e.g. Automatic dispensers for hot drinks, hot or cold bottles or cans, solid products, money)

WEEE is waste including all components and subassemblies and consumables which are part of the product at the time of discarding.

'Historic' and 'future' WEEE

WEEE products are also categorised depending on when they were placed onto the UK market. The responsibility for WEEE disposal differs for historic and future WEEE. This responsibility affects both producers and businesses that use EEE.

Products placed onto the market before 13 August 2005 are called 'historic WEEE'.
Products placed onto the market after 13 August 2005 are called 'future WEEE'.

Who is Affected?





If you manufacture, import or re-brand EEE and place it on the UK market.

Obliged to join a Producer Compliance Scheme (PCS) to discharge producer obligations. 37 producer compliance schemes have been approved, a list is available via the link below


If you provide new EEE directly to household users/consumers

Obliged to provide facilities to your customers to return old equipment free of charge.

Business End User

No longer need to pay for the disposal of EEE when it becomes waste, producers pay for the treatment, collection and recycling in most cases.


Exporters will only be able to issue evidence of WEEE treatment or recovery overseas if they have been approved by the Environment Agency.


Householders have no obligations under the Regulations but can help to recycle these goods.

If a product requires electricity for its main purpose then it's likely to be covered by the regulations. There are a few exclusions, which should be checked. Any business that imports, rebrands or manufactures electrical or electronic equipment in the UK must register with an approved producer compliance scheme as of March 2007. Failure to do so is breaking the law could lead to fines of up to £5,000 in a magistrate's court or unlimited fines in a Crown court.

To register with a compliance scheme it is necessary to:

  • pay a registration fee
  • inform the scheme how much electrical and electronic equipment is placed on the UK market each calendar year
  • inform the scheme whether the equipment is supplied for household or non-household (e.g. business) use

The scheme will then issue a producer registration number that should be provided to anyone who distributes or sells the business' equipment.

A list of approved compliance schemes can be viewed on the Environment Agency website:

EA list of approved compliance schemes

Each business is required to finance the cost of treating and recovering the types of products imported, rebranded or manufactured. There are separate collection and funding arrangements for non-household equipment.

Further advice should be available from compliance schemes. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has also produced guidance which explains a business' responsibilities. See their website:

BIS WEEE Guidance

It is also a requirement that all new electrical products placed on the market (since 1st April 2007) are marked with the crossed out wheeled bin symbol (shown below) and a producer identification mark.

Why Do We Need The Regulations?

Every year the UK throws away around 2 million tonnes of WEEE. It is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the UK and the EU. The EU adopted the WEEE Directive to deal with this waste by making sure more waste is collected for treatment and recovery and less goes to landfill.

The WEEE Regulations were introduced in January 2007 in the UK. They affect everyone who uses, sells, treats or disposes of WEEE as well as those that produce EEE. The guidance from BERR explains the obligations of those involved with WEEE.


The UK targets are to collect 4kg of WEEE per annum per inhabitant from households.

For further information on the UK targets and achievements, please see the link below:

WEEE Directive Targets and UK Achievement


'Do I Need To Comply?' Environment Agency Guidance

Website References

  1. Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) http://www.epa.ie/whatwedo/sustain/mgt/weee/
  2. BIS (The Department for Business Innovation & Skills), EC Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE http://www.bis.gov.uk/weee
  3. The Environment Agency, WEEE: Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/regulation/31975.aspx
  4. Defra (The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs), Electrical and Electronic Equipment Waste http://archive.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/producer/electrical/index.htm
  5. NetRegs, Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) http://www.netregs.gov.uk/netregs/topics/WEEE/default.aspx
  6. DOENI, Waste Electrical Electronic Equipment http://www.doeni.gov.uk/index/protect_the_environment/waste/waste_electrical_electronic_equipment.htm
  7. SEPA, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE http://www.sepa.org.uk/waste/waste_regulation/producer_responsibility/weee.aspx