Are you ready for Weee?

On New Year's Day, environmental managers across the country may well have woken up with a headache - but not for the reasons you might expect. The Weee directive finally arrived. Tom Idle reports.

It’s been one of the most talked-about pieces of legislation of the past 18 months. Consultation papers have been thrown back and forth to the DTI. Retailers have moaned about take-back obligations. Local authorities have complained about updating civic amenity sites. And manufacturers have whined about picking up the costs.

All the while, the rest of Europe has just been getting on with it.

Anyway, the waiting is over. The grumbling has to come to an end. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (Weee) directive has finally arrived.

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Weee is the fastest growing waste stream in the UK. The Weee Regulations aim to reduce the amount of this waste going to landfill, and increase recovery and recycling rates.

There are certain requirements for Weee relating to the separate collection, disposal and recycling; standards for its treatment; and, collection, recycling and recovery targets.

So, what do you need to be aware of? Well, the regulations came into force on January 2. Producers have to join a compliance scheme by 15 March. Producers have to mark electrical and electronic equipment by April 1. And full responsibility for treating and recycling household Weee begins on July 1.

Manufacturers will need to ensure that all the products they sell are marked with a crossed-out wheelie bin symbol, their name, and the date of creation. They will also have to provide details regarding the safe disassembly and material types of their products to aid recycling.

Meanwhile, producers will have to join a producer compliance scheme (PCS) – the details of which are given over the page by one such provider, Environ – and pay a charge dependent on the weight of the equipment sold in the previous year.

Alternatively, they can arrange for and fund green disposal equivalent to that weight from the previous year and provide this data to the PCS.

Elsewhere, distributors have a role to play in educating customers further downstream. They can opt to accept Weee in-store, or advise their customers of a nearby designated collection facility (DCF). If they don’t go down the in-house take-back route, they’ll have to pay the Distributor Take Back Scheme (DTBS) to do it instead. The wealth of the DTBS will be allocated to the DCFs to allow for them to upgrade their sites.

There’s certainly a lot to get your head around, and hopefully this month’s four-page special feature will help you get ready for Weee.

For more information on the Weee directive, visit

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