European Union (EU) Directives on electrical or electronic equipment

The European Union (EU) Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive; see Directive 2002/96/EC) and the Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (RoHs Directive; see Directive 2002/95/EC), entered into force in February 2003, with the aim of tackling the environmental impact of the rapidly increasing stream of electrical and electronic equipment and goods that go to landfills or require incineration.

The purpose of the WEEE Directive is to prevent waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and to facilitate the reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery of such wastes. The responsibility for the disposal of WEEE is imposed on the "producers" (as defined in the WEEE Directive) of such equipment. Producers should establish an infrastructure for collecting WEEE, in such a way that "users of electrical and electronic equipment from private households should have the possibility of returning WEEE at least free of charge." Also, it compels companies to use the collected waste in an ecologically-friendly manner, either by ecological disposal or by reuse/refurbishment of the collected WEEE.

In order to limit the generation of hazardous waste, the EU introduced the RoHs Directive requiring the substitution of various heavy metals in new electrical and electronic equipment put on the market from 1 July 2006. Enforcement is likely to be exercised by the local enforcement authorities within the individual EU member states.

For more details on the EU Directives, please visit the EU Commission Web site or download the Frequently Asked Questions.