Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Legislation
If you are a producer, distributor or user of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), there is legislation that applies to you. The legislation covers goods such as:
- Household appliances.
- IT and audio-visual equipment.
- Toys, leisure and sports equipment.
- Monitoring and control instruments.
- Medical devices.
- Heating, cooling and lighting equipment.
- Automatic dispensers.
Rules for Businesses
WEEE must be stored, collected, treated, reused, recovered or disposed of separately from any other waste your business produces.
You must also obtain and keep proof that it was given to an authorised waste-management company, and was dealt with in an environmentally sound way. In most cases, business users will not have to pay for treatment and recycling costs - this falls to producers.
Rules for Equipment Producers
Your business will be treated as a producer if it manufactures, imports or re-brands equipment.
Producers must join a producer compliance scheme. Your scheme will register you with the Environment Agency, and manage the exchange of information between you and the regulator.
Producers aren't responsible for the actual equipment they produce, but have to pay the cost of collecting, treating, recovering and disposing of WEEE equivalent to the amount of equipment they produce. It's effectively an 'offsetting' scheme. You can arrange for your compliance scheme to do this on your behalf, or you can do so directly yourself (in which case you will still need to provide evidence to your compliance scheme).
Producers also have to:
- provide information about the components and materials used in their equipment - this is to make it easier to prepare the equipment for reuse.
- mark all goods with a crossed-through wheelie-bin symbol to indicate that users should keep WEEE separate from other waste.
Rules for Equipment Distributors
Your business will be treated as a distributor if you sell electrical and electronic equipment to end-users. This applies if you are a retailer, wholesaler or distance seller such as a mail order or internet business.
Distributors are required to:
- ensure that their suppliers are registered with the Environment Agency - suppliers should provide you with a unique producer reference number.
- provide customers with information about the environmental impact of the equipment they are buying, and explain the meaning of the crossed-out wheelie-bin symbol - you must explain the reasons for separating WEEE from other types of waste.
- set up a take-back system enabling household customers to dispose of WEEE free of charge - this system must be clearly explained to your customers so that they know how to dispose of their WEEE safely.
There are two ways of setting up a take-back scheme. You can accept customers' WEEE in-store when selling a replacement item. Or you can join the distributor take-back scheme which operates a network of disposal sites to which customers can take their WEEE without charge.
As a distributor you have no obligation to take back EEE from business users.