The WEEE durective has now been in place in the UK since 2006. The new WEEE Directive 2012/19/EU has been published in issue L197 of the Official Journal on 24 July 2012. The aim of the new direcitve is to
increase the amount of e-waste that is appropriately treated and to reduce the volume that goes to disposal. The proposals also aim to reduce administrative burdens and ensure coherency with newer policies and legislation covering, for example, chemicals and the new legislative framework for the marketing of products in the European Union.
The European Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment
(WEEE) Directive aims to reduce the amount of WEEE going to landfill,
by requiring all manufacturers and producers to take responsibility for
what happens to the products they sell at the end of their lives.
It sets mandatory collection targets equal to 65% of the average weight of electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market over the two previous years in each Member State. The recycling and recovery targets of such equipment would cover the re-use of whole appliances and weight-base targets would increase by 5%. Targets are proposed also for the recovery of medical devices.
Consumption of EEE / waste arisings
World-wide, the growth rates for the electronics industry in 2012 was 9% higher than in 2011 and in 2010 , suggesting that the personal EF for electronics, albeit very small, will also have increased as people own more and increasingly complex EEE. This also means a higher amount of WEEE. The objective of the EU legislation on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) and of WEEE (introduced into UK law in 2007) is to increase the recycling and/or re-use of such products (kick-starting a circular economy for these, see below) and require the substitution of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium and flame retardants (i.e. polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) with safer alternatives. Despite these rules only one third of electrical and electronic waste in the EU is currently reported as separately collected and appropriately treated. The remainder is still likely to end up in landfill and improper treatment outside the EU and illegal trade of WEEE to non-EU countries is still being found at EU borders. The present collection target of 4kg per person and year does not reflect the actual amount of WEEE occurring in the EU. From 2016, the minimum collection targets have been set at 45% increasing to 65% by 2019 .
Accompanying the WEEE Directive is the Restriction of Certain
Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, which restricts the use of certain
toxic substances, such as lead, in printed circuit boards. This directive has been recast and
will transposed into UK law by 2 January 2013. See the BIS webiste for more information