Guidance on WEEE Compliance & Regulations for Businesses

Companies who sell electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) in the UK have obligations under WEEE regulations, which governs the way in which such equipment is scrapped, recycled and disposed of. If you are such a producer or distributor, read this guide to find out about what the WEEE regulations are, whether your products fit the scope of the regulations, and how WEEE compliance can be achieved.

WEEE Regulations in the UK

In the UK, WEEE Regulations (2013) became law on the 1st January 2014, replacing the previous WEEE regulations. This legislation is based on the EU WEEE Directive. The EU directive let set targets for the recycling of waste electronic equipment across Europe, primarily in order to reduce the large volumes of WEEE that ends up in landfill. The UK's interpretation of this directive has ensured that producers and distributors become more responsible for the environmental impact of their products.

WEEE regulations mean that it is your responsibility to inform your customers about recycling WEEE. For example, you should provide free information about:

  • How you will collect and dispose of waste equipment, such as through the use of WEEE recycling machinery
  • How your customers can reuse and recycle EEE
  • Why WEEE needs to be separated from other waste
  • The effects of failing to recycle EEE
In the UK, the Government’s own website outlines the information you are required to comply with if you are a retailer or distributor of EEE - find out more.

What is WEEE compliance?

If you produce or distribute electrical equipment within a number of different categories, then your business will need to be WEEE compliant. In the UK, legislation covers the following categories of WEEE:

  1. Large household appliances
  2. Small household appliances
  3. IT and telecoms equipment
  4. Consumer equipment
  5. Lighting equipment
  6. Electrical and electronic tools
  7. Toys, leisure and sports equipment
  8. Medical devices
  9. Monitoring and control instruments
  10. Automatic dispensers
  11. Display equipment
  12. Cooling equipment
  13. Gas discharge lamps and LED light sources
  14. Photovoltaic panels

In order to become WEEE compliant, producers and distributors must comply with the WEEE regulations. There are, however, some exceptions in terms of the products covered by the regulations. For example, consumables - such as ink cartridges - are not generally considered WEEE, although some consumables - like security tags - can be. Implanted and infected medical products, as well as military products, are also exempt from the WEEE regulations. If you think your items could be outside the scope of the regulations, we would recommend keeping all relevant documentation in case this is questioned in future.

In order to determine whether your product is covered by the regulations, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the product need electric currents or electromagnetic fields to work?
  • Does it require less than 1,000v AC or 1,500v DC?
  • Does it fit within one of the product categories in the list above?
  • Is the product covered by a specific exemption?
  • Is the main power source electricity?
If you answer 'yes' to the above questions, then your product is likely to be covered by the scope of the WEEE regulations in the UK.

What happens next?

If you are a producer placing 5 tonnes or more of electrical and electronic equipment on the UK market in a specific compliance period, then you must register with an approved WEEE compliance scheme.

Approved WEEE compliance scheme providers will usually provide the following kinds of resources, advice and services:

  • Workshops and seminars on WEEE guidance
  • Members’ packs, outlining instructions on how to achieve compliance
  • Regular updates
  • An online platform to provide ongoing EEE data
  • Tracking and reporting of collected and recycled WEEE
Registering with an approved scheme is recommended as failing to comply with the UK’s WEEE regulations can lead to prosecution and fines. Non-compliant businesses can face fines of up to £5000 at a magistrate’s court or unlimited fines from the Crown Court.

Guidance on WEEE Compliance & Regulations for Businesses