EU Commission publishes new WEEE Directive

The Commission of the European Union (EU) has announced significant changes to its key directive on the collection and recycling of electrical and electronic waste that will increase mandatory collection targets in EU Member States.

Published in July 2012 in the Official Journal of the European Union, the EU’s new directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE-2012/19/EU) establishes a recycling collection target of 45% of electronic equipment sold beginning in 2016. Further, beginning in 2019, member states will be required to achieve a collection target of either 65% of equipment sold, or 85% of electronic waste generated. Finally, beginning in 2018, the new directive will extend the scope of its recycling requirements to all categories of electronic waste.

The EU has restricted the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment through its Directive 2002/95/EC (also known as the RoHS Directive), and has promoted the collection and recycling of such equipment though Directive 2002/96/EC (also known as the WEEE Directive) since early 2003. However, the Commission’s Directorate General Environment has estimated that only about one third of electrical and electronic waste in the EU is being recycled, with the remainder going to landfills and treatment sites outside of the EU.

The changes to the directive, which have been in the works since 2008, are also being driven in part by concerns regarding the rapid growth of technology innovation, which has accelerated equipment replacement cycles and increased the amount of electrical and electronic waste produced.

Read the complete text of the recast WEEE Directive as published in the Official Journal.