This toolkit provides guidance for all businesses regarding their duties under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations.
What are the WEEE Regulations?
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013 require all businesses to ensure that their WEEE is segregated from other waste and sent for recycling at an Approved Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF). “Producers” of WEEE, ie manufacturers and importers, must finance the collection and recycling of WEEE. Retailers and other distributors have an obligation to take back WEEE from their customers, either in-store or indirectly as part of the national Distributor Takeback Scheme (DTS).
Why do you need to take action?
It is a criminal offence to breach the regulations. Recycling WEEE keeps valuable resources within the economy.
What you need to do?
Avoid producing WEEE
Reduce waste by choosing durable items, or products which can be repaired or upgraded. Investigate leasing arrangements or other business models where the supplier retains ownership of the equipment.
When buying electrical and electronic equipment, note the identity of the supplier and their Producer Compliance Scheme (PCS) number
Suppliers are responsible for financing the recycling of the equipment when it becomes waste; if you do not know who the supplier is, these costs could fall to your business.
Suppliers are required to inform you of their producer registration number issued by the PCS.
Identify WEEE produced within your organisation
WEEE includes: “white goods” such as fridges; small consumer electricals such as kettles; office equipment such as photocopiers; all IT equipment; power tools; lighting.
WEEE does not include: large stationary plant and machinery; defence equipment; electric vehicles.
For more details, see Equipment Affected and Scope of Equipment Covered by the UK WEEE Regulations.
Identify any hazardous WEEE
WEEE classified as hazardous waste includes fluorescent lights and old monitors with cathode ray tubes. This must be kept separate from general WEEE. (For more on hazardous waste see Duties under the Hazardous Waste Regulations.)
Segregate WEEE and store it in a dedicated area
Store WEEE safely and securely, segregating hazardous from non-hazardous WEEE. Avoid damaging items which are suitable for reuse or refurbishment (ie do not just throw all items into a skip).
Find out the suppliers’ arrangements for collection
If the item was supplied after 2005, the supplier is responsible for financing the collection and recycling; however, they can contract out of this responsibility. For older items, the last holder (your business) is responsible.
Normally, the supplier’s PCS will collect the items.
The PCS may collect large items from your premises but more usually they will expect you to take WEEE to a nearby collection facility. Small items of WEEE are collected at local authority recycling centres.
Producers of WEEE
Determine if you are a producer
As well as manufacturers and importers, “producers” include those who rebrand items.
Register with a Producer Compliance Scheme (PCS) or the National Packaging Waste Database
Producers who place more than 5 tonnes per year of electrical and electronic equipment on the market must register with a compliance scheme. The schemes collect household WEEE on behalf of their members and arrange for its recycling at an approved ATF.
The scheme will require information on the amount and nature of electrical and electronic equipment that you place on the market.
“Small producers” register directly with the regulator via the National Packaging Waste Database.
“Small producers” are only responsible for the take-back of business-to-business WEEE. They can still join a PCS if they wish.
Provide customers with your producer registration number
This will enable them to identify your PCS when the item reaches end-of-life.
Consider introducing a WEEE Policy for your company
Having a company policy shows those both within, and outside, your organisation, that you understand and comply with your duties with regard to WEEE. See here for a sample Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (Producers) Policy.
Distributors of WEEE
Determine whether you are a distributor
“Distributors” include retailers, wholesalers and distance sellers (selling over the internet).
Takeback household WEEE
You must provide a means for your customers to return household WEEE.
The simplest option is to join the national DTS which will collect WEEE on your behalf.
Alternatively, you can offer an in-store takeback scheme. You must take back items which are broadly equivalent to the new items that customers are purchasing — eg an old VHS video recorder in place of a new DVD player.
Retailers with a floor area of more than 400m2 who are not members of the DTS must take back very small WEEE free of charge, even if the customer is not buying an equivalent item. Very small WEEE means items with no dimension exceeding 25cm.
Online sellers can offer a free postal takeback service.
Provide information to customers
All distributors must provide information which will enable customers to identify, segregate and take back their WEEE. This can be in the form of a poster, leaflet or (for distance sellers) information on a website. See more here on WEEE Distributor Obligations.
Disposal of printers and photocopiers — are we in breach of the WEEE Regulations if we use a general metals EWC Code?
Waste ink and toner cartridges — are toner and ink cartridges counted as waste electrical and electronic equipment?
WEEE take-back obligations (for online sellers) — do we have a duty to take back end-of-life appliances and if so, can we charge for collection?
Retailers’ obligations under the WEEE Regulations — are all retailers legally obliged to have a collection bin for waste electrical goods from consumers?