Frequently asked questions

WEEE

What is WEEE?

WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) is the industrial term for electrical waste, named after the EU Directive that regulates its disposal. Electrical waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) includes anything with a battery or a plug on it. Please note that fluorescent tubes and low energy light bulbs are also classified as EEE/WEEE, while the EU directive does not cover old-style filament light bulbs.

What is the WEEE Directive?

The WEEE Directive was brought in to reduce increasing amounts of electrical waste (WEEE) going to landfill. The Directive requires electronic goods producers to pay for recycling this equipment when it becomes waste.

Who pays for WEEE recycling?

Producers (manufacturers and importers) of electronic and electrical goods have to join an authorised ‘producer compliance scheme’, also known as a WEEE compliance scheme. The producer pays its chosen scheme to collect and recycle WEEE on its behalf.

Where can you take WEEE for recycling?

Ask your local authority where to dispose of it locally. All local authorities accept WEEE for free from households, usually at recycling centres. A WEEE compliance scheme will collect the WEEE from the local authority. This service is paid for by EEE producers. You can also dispose WEEE through your retailer when buying a new similar equipment. If the new equipment is home-delivered, the retailer must offer free collection of the WEEE the new equipment is replacing. Retail shops with sales areas relating to EEE of at least 400 m2 must offer collection of very small WEEE (no external dimension more than 25 cm) free of charge to end-users and with no obligation to buy EEE of an equivalent type

Who pays for business WEEE recycling?

Local authority recycling centres may not accept business WEEE. In order to dispose of business-produced WEEE you should contact the producer of the equipment (i.e., if it has a crossed out wheelie bin symbol on it). If you are replacing products and the old products do not have a crossed out wheelie bin symbol on them, you can contact the producer of the new products that you are purchasing.

Is all WEEE collected by compliance schemes?

Currently over 50% of WEEE is not collected by WEEE compliance schemes. This can be accounted for in a number of ways:

  • If a new item is heavier than the old one it replaces – for example, new large American style fridges – this accounts for some of the ‘missing’ un-recycled WEEE.
  • Electrical goods may be purchased as additional appliances for our homes. In this case, there obviously is no similar item to recycle.
  • Items may be re-used (sold as used, given away for free, etc.).
  • Broken items may remain in people’s houses.
  • Waste may also be legally disposed of in landfills or illegally dumped or exported.
What is WEEE used for?

The plastics, circuit boards, wiring, metals and batteries can all be extracted and used to make new products.

Are photovaltics (PVs) subject to the WEEE Directive?

As part of the WEEE Directive, PV module recycling is a legal obligation across Europe. Moreover, the transposition of the WEEE directive into the legislation of member states means that waste PV Module collection and recycling are now subject to producer responsibility.

Batteries

What is the EU Batteries Directive?

The EU Batteries Directive compels battery producers to pay for the collection and recycling of depleted batteries.

What is a battery compliance scheme?

Compliance schemes are organisations that producers use to manage recycling obligations. All schemes are registered and controlled by the relevant authorities.

What does “Battery Producer” refer to?

The term “Battery Producer” extends beyond battery manufacturers to any company imports batteries or products that contain batteries. Retailers that import their own brand batteries or batteries within products are also classified as battery producers.

Do all producers have to join a battery compliance scheme?

In Spain all battery producers need to comply with the regulation, regardless the amount of batteries they put on the market. Becoming a member of a compliance scheme is the alternative the vast majority of producers use to comply with this regulation.

How will batteries be collected?

Battery compliance schemes make arrangements to collect batteries from collection points such as local authority sites, shops, offices and schools, often using existing collection rounds where possible to minimise costs and carbon emissions.

Who will pay for battery recycling?

If batteries are discarded with household waste, the cost of collection and disposal is borne by local authorities. Landfill is an increasingly expensive method of disposal, as landfill sites become full and landfill taxes increase. Recycling will shift the cost of disposal to battery producers. Producers have an obligation to collect and treat batteries in proportion to the amount they sell each year. The legislation has set increasing targets until 2021, when 50% of batteries must be recycled.

What does this Directive mean for local authorities?

Local authorities collect waste batteries at their recycling centres and other municipal facilities. Battery compliance schemes then collect from these sites for free and sort and treat the batteries. There will be no cost to local authorities and no effect on council taxes, as battery producers will be paying for this service.

How consumers are affected?

Consumers can take their waste batteries to any collection point, such as local authority recycling centres or shops that sell batteries. Moreover, workplaces, libraries and schools will also collect waste batteries.

How retailers are affected?

Distributors have to accept the return of spent portable batteries and accumulators at no cost for the holders or end users of such, and they cannot require them to purchase new portable batteries or accumulators.

Why has the EU introduced the Battery Directive?

Battery recycling is good for the environment. Some batteries contain toxic metals (such as nickel, cadmium or mercury) that cause pollution if they end up in landfills or incinerators. Recycling batteries also means that the valuable metals can be re-used and saves energy by reducing the need for raw materials.

Can all batteries be recycled?

Yes. All types of batteries can be recycled, both disposable and rechargeable. The only batteries that are exempt from this Directive are those used in equipment related to national security interests, arms, munitions and war material.

How many batteries are there in a tonne?

There are approximately 43,500 AA alkaline batteries to one tonne.

Packaging

What is the European Parliament and Council Directive 94/62/EC of 20 December 1994 on packaging and packaging waste?

It was the first Directive that addressed a series of measures which main target was to limit the generation of packaging waste and promote recycling, reuse and other ways of valorization for these waste; considering elimination as the less valuable and last alternative.

Obligations

What are the obligations of consumers?
  • Collect and separate household waste.
  • Deposit used batteries in appropriate containers.
  • Take old household appliances to civic amenity sites or retailers when buying a new one equivalent.
  • Acquire new eco-friendly products.
What are the obligations of producers?
  • Respect the “producer responsibility principle”.
  • Factor recycling into total product cost.
  • Declare quantities of produced/imported items.
  • Meet all legal obligations through compliance schemes such as ERP.
What are the obligations of distributors?
  • Select products from reliable importers and producers and who can provide their registration number.
  • Provide or support collection points for WEEE and Batteries.
  • Raise awareness about recycling.
What are the obligations of local authorities?
  • Promote recycling of local household waste.
  • Provide collection points for WEEE and Batteries.
  • Cooperate with schemes to manage waste through appropriate channels.
  • Raise awareness about recycling.
What are the obligations of Extended Producer Responsibility organisations?
  • Manage compliance obligations and declarations for producers.
  • Organise collection and treatment of waste.
  • Separate waste for treatment and re-use.
  • Optimize the recycling/waste cycle.
  • Organize recycling days and other events to raise awareness about recycling.
  • Inform Autonomous Communities of the waste management results each year.

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