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April 19, 2013

UK Begins Consultation on WEEE Implementation

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

On April 17, 2013, the United Kingdom’s (UK) Department for Business, Innovation and Skills launched a public consultation on the implementation of the recast Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. The consultation focuses on how the government should amend the existing WEEE regulations to ensure compliance with the recast WEEE Directive published on July 24, 2012, and on how to respond to concerns from UK producers of electrical and electronic equipment under the Environmental Theme of the Red Tape Challenge about the cost of meeting their financial obligations under the regulations. Stakeholders and interested parties from all stages of the supply chain are invited to participate, including producers, retailers, distance sellers, and distributors. Comments are due June 21, 2013. More information is available online.


Under the recast WEEE Directive, beginning in 2016, the collection target of 45 percent of electronic equipment sold will apply, and, in 2019, a target of 65 percent of equipment sold or 85 percent of electronic waste generated. Member States will be able to choose which way to measure the target they wish to report. Beginning in 2018, the Directive will be extended from its current restricted scope to all categories of electronic waste, subject to an impact assessment beforehand. EU Member States have been given legal tools to deter and punish illegal export of e-waste more effectively, and stop illegal shipments of e-waste labelled as “Used” or “Second hand.”

According to the consultation document, the five main changes introduced by the recast are:

  • The introduction of higher Member State collection and recovery targets and a changed methodology for calculating the WEEE collection rate;
  • A wider scope for the range of products covered by the Directive;
  • Lowering the regulatory and cost burdens on business through the introduction of an “authorised representative” who can fulfil the obligations of the producer;
  • Better controlling the illegal international trade in WEEE; and
  • A requirement for retailer take-back of very small WEEE in certain circumstances.

According to the impact assessment, the UK considered a “do nothing” option and two main policy options to meet the WEEE collection targets arising from the recast. Under Option 2, the UK would meet the recast collection targets by including non-obligated WEEE into the official producer financed system. Under Option 3, which is the preferred option, the UK would meet the collection targets through establishing a protocol to arrive at a substantiated estimate of un-obligated WEEE. The impact assessment states that Option 3 delivers a lower net/gross cost overall and to business relative to Option 2. Option 3 allows estimates to be established of the volume of WEEE flows outside of the official WEEE system. According to the Department, the main costs are developing, testing, and implementing the methodology and updating the estimates at regular intervals.

Next Steps

The Department states that it will publish its response to comments within eight weeks of the consultation closing date. If there is support for reform of the UK WEEE system under the options set out in the consultation document, the Department will consult further on draft regulations. The Department intends to provide the final version of the regulations to Parliament to take effect January 1, 2014, when the old regulations will be revoked. The Department aims to publish the UK government guidance notes for the new regulations at least ten weeks before that date.