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Document 32012L0019

Making the most of waste electrical and electronic equipment

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Making the most of waste electrical and electronic equipment



Directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)


It is designed to prevent electrical and electronic waste (WEEE) by requiring European Union (EU) countries to ensure the equipment is recovered, reused or recycled.


Whatdoes this lawcover?

Electrical and electronic devices are widely used in our daily lives. Yet once discarded, they contribute to one of the EU’s fastest growing waste streams, and the hazardous substances they contain can bring health and environmental risks if WEEE is not properly treated.

The existing law

The original WEEE directive (Directive 2002/96/EC) came into force in 2003. It set a minimum national target for collection from private households of 4 kg per inhabitant per year.

Special responsibilities were also placed on producers. They had to make a financial contribution to cover the costs of collecting, treating and sustainably disposing of waste from both household and non-household equipment deposited at dedicated collection points.

What has changed?

  • The amended legislation broadens the scope to cover all electrical and electronic goods — apart from certain items such as stationary industrial machinery and military material.
  • It changes the original 4 kg collection target to a variable one from 2016 onwards, taking account of individual national economies: 45% of the average weight of products placed on the market in a given country in the 3 preceding years.
  • From 2019, the collection target increases to 65% of the average weight of products placed on the market in a given country in the 3 preceding years.
  • It simplifies reporting obligations on producers, potentially saving them millions of euros.
  • National governments can decide the penalties to be applied if the legislation is not followed — but they must be dissuasive.

Why the update?

  • The existing legislation had generated unintended administrative and other costs.
  • The collection and recycling rates being achieved did not meet the original health and environmental expectations. Only one third of waste equipment was being treated according to the legislation — the rest either went into landfills or received substandard treatment inside and outside the EU.


It has applied since 13 August 2012. EU countries had to incorporate it into national law by 14 February 2014.


For more information, see:


Directive 2012/19/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) (OJ L 197, 24.7.2012, pp. 38-71)

last update 02.02.2017