The WEEE Directive in 2012

The WEEE Regulations give original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) including luminaire makers cradle-to-grave responsibility for their products. This includes having to pay for the recycling of all affected products. They must do this by joining a producer compliance scheme (PCS). They also must ensure that their products are marked the WEEE mark including appropriate information on recycling and ensure that suitable information is available on recycling.

The regulations came into force in July 2007 in the UK In December 2008, the first proposals to recast the WEEE Directive were made by the European commission. On 20th December 2011, at a three way meeting of representatives from European national governments, the Commission, and the European Parliament, a new text for the WEEE directive was finally agreed. The implementation of the recast is currently (April 2012) still being delayed and yet another delay has just been announced. In the UK consultation is expected to start in late 2012 with implementation in 2014.

What Does This Mean For Luminaires?

If the luminaires were installed before 13.08.05 then the manufacturer of the replacement equipment must finance the disposal of the luminaires. If they were installed after that date then the original manufacturer must finance the disposal. If there is no replacement then the responsibility for disposal rests with the end user

In practice this means the remover of the luminaires contacting the PCS who will generally arrange to make skips available to remove the luminaires free. There are other compliance routes.

The Environment Agency keeps a list of approved PCS schemes which currently runs to about 50. Lumicom are the largest PCS for lighting in the UK by a long way and most manufacturers with the notable exception of Hacel are members of this scheme.

Impact of The Recast

The recast aims to increase the proportion of EEE that is recycled and now includes a blanket definition of equipment rather than including specific categories such as luminaires. This means that contractors will be able to look to a wider range of recycling goods than at present. This change should be implemented in 2018.

The recast also includes a requirement to alter the collection targets. 4 years after implementation (ie 2017) 45% of EEE produced in the previous 3 years and by 2021 this will rise to 65% (or 85% as an option for the UK). This will probably place a series of reporting targets on various organizations including contractors

It remains to be seen how the UK government will implement the various changes. The consultation is expected to open at the end of this year, with the regulations likely to be effective from the beginning of 2014. There will be implications for the whole industry, including electrical contractors including more red tape and form filling.