THE WEEE Directive has already been introduced in many European countries. Governments are required to ensure systems are in place to collect discarded items. Producers must assume financial responsibility for the cost of recycling or disposal of their goods and for meeting targets on recovery, reuse, and recycling including historical waste.

A producer is classified as;

  • Any company that manufactures the affected electrical and electronic equipment
  • Any company that resells equipment under its brand name produced by other manufacturers
  • Any company that imports such equipment
  • Sale by the Internet is also included and has the same obligations on take-back
The Equipment Categories

The 10 broad categories are (you are advised to get detailed information on this if you are uncertain).

  • Large household appliances
  • Small household appliances (clocks and scales etc)
  • IT and telecommunication equipment
  • Brown goods (tvs, hi-fi & video recorders) etc
  • Lighting equipment
  • Electrical and electronic tools (drills, lawnmowers & sewing machines)
  • Medical equipment systems
  • Monitoring and control equipment (thermostats, control panels & smart home appliances)
  • Automatic dispensers (drinks machines)

Non-complying products are likely to be removed from the marketplace. This will have implications for all goods sent into and circulated within Europe. ROHS Directive This directive is designed to restrict the use of certain substances in the production process so that harmful toxic pollution is minimised and recycling of products is made easier. It is your responsibility to ensure that the goods you make, supply or sell are compliant.

Banned/restricted materials

  • Lead including standard solder,
  • Cadmium, Mercury
  • Hexavalent Chromium
  • Brominated Flame retardants PBB and PBDE

Alternative substances must be found for these.

The Implications Of The Directives

You will have your own opinion on what effect these Directives may have on you and the wider environment but these are some of the implications to consider for the future.

  • Producer responsibility: this means "intelligent" design from the outset, better use of materials and resources and greener, cleaner and more efficient manufacturing processes
  • Manufacturers will also need to make provisions for end-of-life disposal and recovery
  • Reduction in the environmental impact of hazardous waste
  • Restriction on the use of harmful materials and substances
  • Products should in theory last longer; more durability
  • Products should enable easier repair
  • Replacement parts should be available for longer, the current average of 10 years is not considered long enough
  • Due to the above products may increase in price in the short term
  • Consumers may value their products more if they have cost more initially and repair more frequently and keep them longer.
  • Rogue non-complying manufacturers may see their products banned in Europe.
  • Less product going to landfills, and a reduction in the "throwaway society" are two of the main drivers behind the directives and the "sustainable development" debate.

Both Directives can be read in full and downloaded from the European Union's website; www.europa.eu.int