Is Your Facility WEEE Compliant for 2020?

WEEE stands for Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment. The first EU WEEE Directive (Directive 2002/96/EC), which took effect in February 2003, mandates the treatment, recovery and recycling of electric and electronic equipment. This Directive provided for the creation of collection methods where consumers return their WEEE free of charge. WEEE 2 (Directive 2012/19/EU) took effect on February 14, 2014.

WEEE compliance aims to encourage the design of electronic products with environmentally-safe recycling and recovery in mind. RoHS compliance dovetails into WEEE by reducing the amount of hazardous chemicals used in electronics manufacture. RoHS regulates the hazardous substances used in the manufacture of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), while WEEE regulates the disposal of this same equipment. All applicable products for the EU market must pass WEEE compliance and carry the "Wheelie Bin" mark. So manufacturers of EEE must not only follow RoHS compliance but also WEEE compliance for end-of-life.

Previously, WEEE only covered specific equipment. Starting August 15, 2018, the scope of the WEEE widened to include all EEE, which is classified within 6 categories instead of the existing 11 RoHS product categories. Any batteries incorporated in WEEE are also collected per the WEEE Directive. However, as per Annex VII of the WEEE Directive, after collection, batteries are to be removed (either manual, mechanical, chemical or metallurgic handling) from the product and counted towards the collection targets of the separate EU Batteries Directive. They are also subject to the recycling requirements of the Batteries Directive.

WEEE Product Categories

Category 1. Temperature Exchange Equipment (TEE) - includes all EEE equipment that use substances other than water for heating and cooling. This includes refrigerators, air-conditioning equipment, and heat pumps.

Category 2. Monitors and equipment with large screens - includes monitors, televisions, laptops, tablets, e-book readers with screens greater than 100 cm2 and whose primary focus is displaying information. So would NOT include smartphones (too small) or smart fridges with screens (primary use is cooling, not displaying information).

Category 3. Lamp bulbs - includes fluorescent, LED, HID, and LPS lamp bulbs and tubes. Does NOT include luminaires and light fixtures (which are in Categories 4 and 5).

Category 4. Large equipment - includes any EEE not included in Categories 1, 2, or 3 that has at least one external dimension (L, W, H) greater than 50 cm. This typically includes washers, dryers, electric stoves, large medical equipment, photovoltaic panels, large light fixtures, etc.

Category 5. Small equipment - includes any EEE not included in other categories with all external dimensions (L, W, H) less than 50 cm and is not IT equipment (Category 6). This typically includes vacuum cleaners, microwaves, small kitchen appliances, and consumer electronic equipment.

Category 6. Small IT/computer/communications equipment - includes any EEE not included in other categories with all external dimensions (L, W, H) less than 50 cm that is used for IT, computing, or communications. This typically includes smartphones, desktop computers, GPS equipment, printers, routers, and fax machines.

WEEE Exemptions

WEEE excludes the following equipment, which are similar to RoHS exemptions. Note that photovoltaic panels are NOT exempted:

Military - equipment used for defense or national security
Space - equipment sent into space such as satellites, telescopes, spacecraft
Transportation - vehicles used for transport (except 2-wheeled electric vehicles)
R&D - equipment used for professional research and development
Non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) - agricultural, railway, waterway, construction machinery
Large-scale fixed installations (LSFI) - electrical distribution, HVAC, robotic equipment and lines
Large-scale stationary industrial tools (LSSIT) - CNC, milling, metal-forming, testing machines; cranes
Active Implantable Medical Devices (AIMDs) - pacemakers, implanted defibrillators, insulin pumps
Sub-equipment for out-of-scope equipment
Compact flourescent light bulbs/lamps