WEEE & RoHS Directives

 

 

Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (Directive 2002/96/EC(WEEE)) and the Restriction of the Use of hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (Directive 2002/95/EC)(RoHS).

These two landmark EU Directives on waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS) entered into force on 13th February 2003.

Based on the premise of producer responsibility and that improved product design can better facilitate recycling and disposal of products at end-of-life, the key aims of the WEEE Directive are to -

reduce WEEE disposal to landfill;
provide for a free producer take-back scheme for consumers of end-of-life equipment from 13 August 2005;
improve product design with a view to both preventing WEEE and to increasing its recoverability, reusability and/or recyclability;
achieve specified targets for recovery, reuse and recycling of different classes of WEEE;
provide for the establishment of collection facilities and separate collection systems for WEEE from private households - and
provide for the establishment and financing by producers of systems for the recovery and treatment of WEEE, including provisions for placing financial guarantees on new products placed on the market.

The purpose of the RoHS Directive is to minimise waste arisings of certain hazardous substances, by restricting the use of certain hazardous materials - including heavy metals in electrical and electronic equipment. The RoHS Directive provides that new electrical and electronic equipment being put on the market after 1 July 2006, cannot - other than permitted trace levels - contain lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).

Regulations
The legislation consists of three sets of regulations:

  • amending the Waste Management Acts 1996 to 2003, in accordance with the provisions of section 62 of the Waste Management Act 1996, in order to provide the enabling provisions under which the detailed regulations for the two Directives will operate;
  • implementation arrangements for the WEEE Directive - and
  • implementation arrangements for the RoHS Directive.

The various articles of the regulations are dealt with in the explanatory memoranda accompanying the regulations. The following is a summary of the some of the key elements:

Producers
The WEEE Directive allows producers to meet their obligations either individually or collectively.

Producers will be responsible for the financing of the collection, treatment and environmentally sound management of WEEE with effect from 13 August next.

The Directive requires that producers provide a guarantee for products intended for private household use and placed on the market after 13th August 2005. This is to ensure financing for the collection, treatment, recovery and environmentally sound disposal of WEEE arising from these products at end-of-life.

In addition to the responsibility for any new products placed on the market, all producers will have financial responsibility for the collection, treatment, recovery and environmentally sound disposal of historic WEEE (i.e. products placed on the market prior to 13th August 2005) in proportion to their current market share as historical WEEE arises.

The WEEE Directive allows producers to meet their obligations either individually or collectively through a collective scheme. The regulations are based on the Repak model which has been operating successfully for packaging waste recycling, where the collective scheme is approved by the Minister. Any collective scheme will have to seek approval in advance of commencement of the scheme and comply with any conditions which the Minister may apply. This approval process can now proceed and will be completed this month (July).

Registration of Producers
The WEEE Directive requires that Member States register all producers of electrical and electronic equipment. For the purposes of fulfilling this obligation in Ireland, an industry based Registration Body - WEEE Register Society Ltd. - has been established as a society under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1893-1978. It will be known as WEEE Register, the National WEEE Registration Body.

The Body will be run by an independent committee of management, made up of five persons.

Mr. Declan Burns, ex Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been appointed as Chairman of WEEE Register. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will have each one observer, who can attend meetings of the Body, but who will not have any role in decisions taken by the Body.

WEEE Register will be required to apply for approval as the Registration Body for the purposes of the legislation the legislation allows for the operation of only one registration body and this process will be completed shortly. In the meantime, WEEE Register will operate on a non-statutory basis.

Retailers
Retailers will be obliged to take back at least free of charge household WEEE on a one-for-one basis - i.e. replacing the equipment of similar type or fulfilling the sale function. Customers will have 15 days to return a corresponding piece of obsolete equipment. Retailers delivering large appliances will be obliged to take the obsolete equipment back immediately, if available for collection (e.g. cleaned, disconnected from utilities etc.). If the obsolete appliance is not available for immediate collection, the customer will have 30 days to return it to the retailer.

Retailer Registration
The WEEE Directive allows for exemptions from the normal waste permitting requirements for the storage and transport of WEEE. A modified permitting regime will operate under which retailers will be required to register their premises with their local authority - i.e. County or City Council. This registration system will be straightforward, with retailers required to complete and sign a form undertaking to comply with general binding rules on the environmentally sound management of WEEE and forward this with a small fee (20) to their local authority. Local authorities may only accept WEEE from retailers who are registered.

Subject to certain conditions, retailers who have registered with local authorities will be permitted to deposit household WEEE at civic amenity sites, operated by or on behalf of local authorities, free of charge.

Local Authorities
Each local authority will be obliged to maintain a register of all retailers of EEE in its functional area, accept household WEEE free of charge from members of the public and registered retailers who take back household WEEE on a one-for one basis.

Local authorities will also be responsible for enforcing the WEEE regulations pertaining to retailer responsibilities and, where appropriate, collection and treatment facilities.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The EPA will be will have the lead role in enforcing the WEEE regulations. These responsibilities relate to enforcement of producer responsibility obligations and, where appropriate, collection and treatment facilities. The EPA will have sole responsibility for enforcing the RoHS regulations.

Derogation
The WEEE Directive sets collection, recovery and recycling targets - including the collection target of 4kg per person from private households, which must be achieved by 31 December 2006. Ireland has decided to avail of the derogation in the Directive, which allows an extension of two-years in this deadline. Thus, the deadline which will now apply is 31 December 2008.

Cost
The WEEE Task Force Report on the implementation of the WEEE Directive, estimated that the cost of collection and treatment of WEEE would be in the region of 10 to 14m annually.

Penalties
The maximum penalties under the Waste Management Acts are a fine not exceeding 15,000,000, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years - or both.

Public Consultation
Publication of the draft regulations was followed by a period of public consultation which resulted in 46 written submissions being made to the Minsiter.

 

 

 

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