Regulations on WEEE

The recycling of waste from electrical and electronic equipment, like all other forms of waste recovery, has to meet detailed regulations that are constantly evolving. While we cannot publish all the texts on the correct management of WEEE here, we should still look at some of its particular features.

REGULATORY OBLIGATIONS APPLICABLE TO WASTE COLLECTION AND WASTE TREATMENT

In the European Union, WEEE collection rates have risen steadily since the 24 July 2012 revision of the WEEE directive. As from 2016, the minimum collection rate will be 45% of the waste from electrical and electronic equipment produced over the previous three years. In France, it is estimated that 10 kg of WEEE per inhabitant will have to be collected and directed through the appropriate waste treatment channels. As from 2019, the national collection rate could reach 65% of the average weight of WEEE put on the market, i.e. 14 kg per person.
 
On the waste recycling and recovery side, the objectives set by the European directive rose by five points on 14 August 2015. In practical terms, current regulations require that :
 

  • 85% of large domestic appliances and vending machines collected be recovered, with 80% being recycled to re-enter the production chain.
  • 80% of computing and telecommunications equipment should be recovered, with 70% re-directed to IT waste recycling factories, encompassing electrical and electronic equipment.
  • 75% of small domestic appliances, lighting equipment, electronic and electrical tools, toys, medical devices and surveillance equipment should be sent through waste recovery channels, with 55% destined for recycling.
  • Finally, 80% of light fittings should be recovered and recycled.

 
We should also note that the removal, sorting and recycling of WEEE may only be done by the few eco-organisations approved by public authorities. A principle that does not prevent those organisations from working together with local collectors or establishing partnerships with WEEE recycling companies such as Paprec for decontaminating and processing their electrical and electronic waste.

Paprec D3E, WEEE

POLLUTION REMOVAL OBLIGATIONS

WEEE regulations introduced by the European directive also require that certain given substances and components be removed from any electrical or electronic waste obtained through sorted collection. Therefore, when items arrive on site, it is a requirement that recycling professionals remove the following items from any recyclable waste received :
 

  • batteries and accumulators
  • printed circuit boards with an area larger than 10 cm2 (often the case with those found in mobile phones)
  • asbestos waste
  • cathode-ray tubes (from which the fluorescent layer must be removed)
  • printer cartridges
  • certain plastics containing brominated flame retardants
  • hydrocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons
  • discharge lamps
  • liquid crystal displays with an area larger than 100 cm2
  • outdoor electrical cables
  • elements containing refractory ceramic fibres
  • most radioactive components (as long as the quantity of targeted substances does not exceed a threshold set by the directive).
  • electrolytic capacitors containing hazardous substances
  • capacitors containing polychlorinated biphenyls
  • components containing mercury

REGULATIONS ON HOUSEHOLD WEEE

Officially considered as household WEEE are “waste from electrical and electronic equipment originating in households, referred to below as household waste from electrical and electronic equipment (or household WEEE) AND waste from electrical and electronic equipment of a commercial, industrial, institutional or other origin that, in its nature and quantity, is similar to that found in households.
 
Recyclable waste from electrical and electronic equipment that could be used either by households or by other types of user is always considered to be household WEEE”.
 
Moreover, producers of household WEEE are responsible for the collection and treatment of equipment that was sold prior to August 2005. After that date, a special marking placed on such a product identifies the producer and states that it will be included in separated collections.
 
On the other hand, producers must supply the user with information on the treatment and recycling of WEEE and also set up a separated collection system or contribute financially to collections made by an accredited eco-organisation. They must also inform the ADEME (Agence De l’Environnement et de la Maitrise de l’Energie, an environmental and energy control agency) of the quantities of equipment sold during the year and, in the following year, and provide waste sorting and recycling companies, such as Paprec D3E, with information on how to dismantle it.
 
As for distributors of electrical and electronic products, they are required to follow the “one for one” rule, i.e require the return of an old appliance for each new one they sell.
 
Finally, nowadays, users are required to comply with the above rule or take responsibility for taking their WEEE to appropriate collection points, in accordance with the sorted collection systems established by local authorities. At all events, WEEE should never be mixed with household waste; it should be kept apart for inclusion in sorted waste.

REGULATIONS ON PROFESSIONAL WEEE

Current regulations state that all producers of electrical and electronic equipment are now required to have all WEEE from professional equipment sold since August 2005 (which must also carry special marking) collected and treated, together with waste from electrical and electronic equipment that replaced old equipment up until that date.
 
Apart from these two cases, the future of professional WEEE may be freely determined by its producers but always within the applicable legal framework.

MANAGING HAZARDOUS WEEE

The production and storage of hazardous waste is governed by special rules and WEEE likely to be harmful to man or the environment must respect these regulations.
 
It must be identified, labelled and stored in accordance with regulations and be transported in vehicles complying with the ADR directive (European agreement on the international road transport of hazardous goods) and ultimately taken to a treatment facility that is classified for environmental protection purposes. 
 
The recycling batteries and waste electrical and electronic equipment is a step-by-step process. Discover the different steps :
 

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