What Is WEEE?
WEEE stands for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. It is another directive from the European Commission (EC) and is closely related to RoHS (see What Is RoHS? for more detail). The directive requires European Union (EU) member states to enact local legislation and implement the law by 13 August 2005.
In essence, WEEE mandates free recycling of electrical and electronic equipment throughout the EU. The consumer pays nothing at the point of collection. The manufacturer pays for all costs associated with collection, transportation, and recycling. In addition, recyclers must be informed of the material content of many items. The producer must also mark all affected products with the WEEE symbol, defined in Annex IV of the directive.
How is this supposed to work? According to the UK's dti, each nation arranges for collection and processing of household WEEE. Producers must pay for the cost of collection via insurance, a collective financing scheme, or a special bank account. For business-to-business transactions, producers must collect and process old products when new products are delivered.
Producers must inform recyclers of the product content. Some items must be identified for separate handling. For instance, fluorescent tubes exempted from RoHS contain mercury and must be processed to remove the mercury. Batteries, CRTs, and LCD displays are also processed separately. Documentation must clearly identify the location of these items in each product.
With a deadline of mid-August of this year, you might assume that everything would be ready to go. That would be a mistake. The UK government hired a consultant, Perchards, to report on the status of the transposition of the directives into legislation in each member state. Only 7 out of 24 states are ready. The rest are still working on legislation and implementation issues.
This lack of readiness is disappointing and it makes preparing for WEEE doubly difficult. Furthermore, it appears that each state will require registration with a local (national) agency. There also seem to be many different schemes for collection and financing. You will need to make separate arrangements in each nation.
I have seen many businesses offering collection and recycling services in the UK. Focus On WEEE, on the RoHSwell.com home page, contains a link to the WEEE Directory. This directory contains listings for UK businesses that can provide the collection and recycling services. Unfortunately, I have not found any businesses offering a complete WEEE solution for all of the EU. Again, it appears you will have to make all arrangements on a country-by-country basis.
Arranging for WEEE compliance is even more urgent than RoHS. It isn't too late yet, but you better jump on this issue. Check out the links in Focus On WEEE.