Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is currently considered to be one of the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, growing at 3-5 % per year. WEEE contains diverse substances that pose considerable environmental and health risks if treated inadequately. On the other hand, the recycling of WEEE offers substantial opportunities in terms of making secondary raw materials available on the market.
EU legislation promoting the collection and recycling of such equipment (Directive 2002/96/EC on WEEE) has been in force since February 2003. The legislation provides for the creation of collection schemes where consumers return their used waste equipment free of charge.
The objective of these schemes is to increase the recycling and/or re-use of such products (see Targets below). Currently one third of WEEE in the EU is being reported by compliance schemes as separately collected and appropriately managed (note some of this might be via destinations outside the Member State of origin).
The remaining WEEE is either 1) collected by unregistered enterprises and properly treated 2) collected by unregistered enterprises and improperly treated or even illegally exported abroad or 3) disposed of as part of residual waste (e.g. to landfills or incinerators). The European Commission has therefore revised the WEEE-Directive, in order to increase the amount of WEEE that is appropriately collected and treated, to reduce the volume that goes to disposal, and to give Member States the tools to fight illegal export of waste more effectively.
The WEEE Directive currently sets a minimum collection target of 4 kg per year per inhabitant for WEEE from households.
All data collected on Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) placed on the market and treatment of WEEE are presented in the following tables.
The 'recovery and recycling rates' (%) of WEEE measure the 'Treatment efficiency'.
This is the ratio between the 'recovered' / and 'recycled and re-used' amounts versus the total amount of WEEE 'treated' (and not versus the total amount of WEEE 'generated' or EEE 'put on the market').
The recast Directive (2012/19/EU), which entered into force on 13th of August 2012, introduces stepwise higher collection targets that will apply from 2016 and 2019.
Some Member States will be able to derogate from the new targets for a limited time, where this is justified by a lack of necessary infrastructure or low levels of consumption of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE).
Note also, that from 2018, the Directive will be extended from its current restricted scope to all categories of EEE, consequently the definition and number of the categories will change (see Table 4).