In EU law, Directive 2012/19/EU of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on waste electrical and electronic equipment is the basis for the disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). The WEEE Directive has been transposed into German law through the Act Governing the Sale, Return and Environmentally Sound Disposal of Electrical and Electronic Equipment.
The Directive lays down requirements for the disposal of WEEE. The principle underlying these requirements is producer responsibility. According to this principle, producers are responsible for their products in terms of the waste these generate over the course of their lifespan.
Member states must ensure the following:
- Producers of electrical and electronic equipment ensure the treatment and recovery of collected and returned WEEE.
- Producers guarantee the financing of the environmentally sound disposal when they place new equipment on the market.
- Distributors accept WEEE from private households under certain conditions.
- The targets for collection, recycling and recovery stipulated in the directive are met.
Pursuant to the directive, WEEE must be collected separately from general waste. Private consumers must be able to return WEEE free of charge. Appropriate collection systems must be established in line with population density. Member states must meet a binding target for collection. In order to achieve this target, producers have to observe special marking obligations. For example, all electrical and electronic equipment that falls under the scope of the directive must bear the symbol of a crossed-out wheeled bin.
The directive also lays down minimum technical requirements for storage and treatment of WEEE.