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