WEEE: B2C compliance management

Article 8 of the WEEE Directive makes businesses that sell their products to private consumers responsible for financing the costs of collection and recycling of household WEEE which is deposited at collection facilities, for example at civic amenity sites and high street retailers. Different rules apply to waste arising from equipment sold before August 2005 (Historic WEEE), and waste arising from products placed on the market after August 2005, (New WEEE).

Article 8 requires Member States to establish a system where the responsibility for financing the collection and recycling costs for historic WEEE is shared between all B2C producers existing on the market when these costs occur. The allocation of these costs must be made on the basis of each B2C producer’s share of the market in that particular year. This means that all producers that sell electrical and electronic equipment in a particular Member State in 2012 will be collectively responsible for the costs arising from collection and recycling of historic WEEE in that Member State in 2012. In many EU Member States, this allocation is co-ordinated though what are known as ‘collective schemes’ for producer compliance which operate in that particular country.

For products placed on the market after August 2005 (New WEEE), Article 8 makes B2C producers responsible for the costs of collection and recycling the WEEE arising from their own products. This is known as ‘individual producer responsibility’. Producers can choose to fulfil this obligation individually or by joining a collective scheme. Article 8 also requires B2C producers to provide a financial guarantee when placing a product on the market that the future costs of WEEE collection and recycling arising from the product will be met. However, in practice in many Member States, the WEEE Regulations require a producer of B2C equipment to meet the costs of collection and recycling through joining an appropriate collective scheme in that country and to meet the provision of a financial guarantee through participation by the producer in the collective scheme. In other words, there is no option to provide individual arrangements for the collection and recycling of WEEE in these countries.

Therefore, individual arrangements which producers may put in place in many EU Member States for the sale of B2B products cannot be extended to the sale of B2C products. Instead, producer are required to join a local collective scheme in each country to provide WEEE collection and recycling for the sales of the B2C products.

The WEEE Recast extends the definition of producer to any entity in the distribution chain not just the entity that sells directly to end-users. The Recast also strengthens the classification of ‘dual use’ equipment as B2C EEE by clarifying that ‘waste from EEE likely to be used by both private households and users other than private households shall in any case be considered to be [B2C WEEE]’.

The Recast newly requires retailers with a sales area for B2C EEE of over 400 sq metres to take back ‘very small’ WEEE (no external dimension more than 25cm) from end-users free of charge without the obligation to purchase a new item and to return the WEEE for treatment organised by producers. Member states may choose not to transpose this provision provided ‘an assessment shows that alternative existing collection schemes are likely to be at least as effective.’

Under the WEEE Recast, Member States;

  • may ‘designate the operators that are allowed to collect WEEE from private households’. At the same time, the provision that producers must be allowed to set up take-back systems remains in place.
  • may provide for specific return arrangements if WEEE does not contain essential components or if equipment contains waste other than WEEE.
  • may require that collected WEEE is handed over to producers or to reuse organisations.

How thinkstep can help

thinkstep can fully assist producers to meet their compliance requirements for the sale of B2C products in EU Member States. Our services include:
  • A compliance assessment of your company's products and sales arrangements against the WEEE and RoHS Directives;
  • An analysis of the collective schemes operating in each county in which your company may be required to join. This will identify those schemes which offer the most cost-effective service to your company for B2C WEEE compliance; and
  • Assisting your company sales office in each country with joining the appropriate collective scheme in that country

Analysis of collective schemes in EU Member States

In most EU Member States, there are a number of different collective schemes in operation. thinkstep will carry out a detailed analysis of the different collective schemes in operation in each country where your products are sold. This will include:

  • Identifying collective schemes which are open to producers of B2C products, and in particular, for the types of products sold by your company in that particular country;
  • Carrying out a cost-comparison for membership to the most appropriate collective schemes in EU Member States. This will include a comparison of membership costs for the first year, 2010, and ongoing costs for subsequent compliance periods; and
  • A recommendation as to the most appropriate scheme for your company to join in each country

Management of collective scheme membership in EU Member States

thinkstep can assist your company sales office in EU Member States with membership to a collective scheme in each country, based on our recommendations on the most appropriate scheme for your company to join. These services will include:

  • Gathering necessary sales data to report to the collective scheme in that country. This data will in turn be used to calculate your company's WEEE obligation in each country;
  • Identifying the necessary documentation to be completed and identifying any associated fees for membership to each collective scheme; and
  • Completion of the documentation in co-ordination with your company sales office in that particular country

thinkstep will pay the necessary registration and collective scheme membership fees on behalf of your company and will charge these fees to your company at cost.