Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations


The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive) aims to minimise the impact of electrical and electronic goods on the environment, by increasing re-use and recycling and reducing the amount of WEEE going to landfill. It seeks to achieve this by making producers responsible for financing the collection, treatment, and recovery of waste electrical equipment, and by obliging distributors to allow consumers to return their waste equipment free of charge.

Every importer, rebrander or manufacturer of electronic and electrical equipment in the UK (defined as WEEE Producers) must meet their responsibilities under the terms of the WEEE Directive by joining a Producer Compliance scheme. Detailed information on how to do this can be found at the Gov.uk website.

Retailers of electronic and electrical equipment (defined as WEEE Distributors) also have an obligation to provide facilities for the free return and appropriate disposal of products discarded by consumers on a "similar product" basis - for example, a customer buying a TV could return a DVD player. This obligation applies equally regardless of whether the new product is sold in a store or online. Under the WEEE recast, which became effective on 1st January 2014, retailers with showroom space of 400m2 or more are required to accept "small WEEE" items with no physical dimension more than 25cm free of charge even if their customer is not buying a replacement device. Alternatively, retailers can join the Distributor Takeback Scheme operated by Valpak. Whichever option is taken, retailers have a requirement to display information about the environmental impact of WEEE and how it can be recycled either in store or on their website.

Consultants 360 Environmental have a very informative section about WEEE on their website; you can find a link in the right hand column.

Other methods of disposing of WEEE

Final users who have redundant business equipment put on the market before 13th August 2005 are responsible for its disposal if it is not being replaced by an equivalent product, in which case the supplier of the replacement is liable. Even if new equipment is being acquired, it can be beneficial to choose an asset recovery company to dispose of unwanted equipment. The commercial model of these businesses aims to secure the maximum value from the unwanted equipment which means it is more likely to be refurbished and re-used rather than recycled into its core components, which is environmentally preferable. In addition, revenue can sometimes be returned to the owner or to a charity in respect of the unwanted items. Asset recovery companies should be registered with the Environment Agency as T11 treatment facilities. 

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