The new WEEE Directive on electric and electronic waste: what will change from 15th August 2018?


From 15th August 2018 “open scope” will come into force, the update of the WEEE Directive which has been regulated the disposal of electric and electronic equipment waste in the European market for many years.

This update will introduce a new classification of electrical and electronic devices with six new categories:

  • Temperature exchange equipment (fridges, freezers, air conditioning, etc.).
  • Screens, monitors, and equipment containing screens which have a surface greater than 100cm² (TVs, computer monitors, etc.).
  • Lamps
  • Large equipment with any external dimension more than 50cm, e.g. washing machines, dishwashers, cooking stoves and ovens, etc.
  • Small equipment with no external dimension more than 50cm, e.g. vacuum cleaners, calculators, video cameras, cameras, hi-fi equipment, watches and clocks.
  • Small IT and telecommunication equipment, e.g. mobile phones, tablets, laptops, GPS, etc.


The changes of the Directive, which is valid in all member countries of the European Union, broaden the products types that, once arrived at the end of their life, must follow a separate collection process and special treatment.

Besides large and small equipment, consumer electronics, light sources and light devices already in the directive’s list, now other products have been added such as USB sticks, plugs, fuses and extension cords.

The companies that are affected by the directive are about 6.000, and the production and collection of WEEE (waste from electrical and electronic equipment) will double.

The principle at the heart of the Directive already in force won’t change, the companies that produce, import or distribute electrical and electronic equipment must organize and finance the waste collection system of the products that they have introduced into the market, with the help of a collective management system.

The WEEE Directive has been introduced to manage the rising number of electric and electronic devices that are circulating in the EU market, which, if not correctly managed, could become dangerous for the environment. Moreover, this kind of waste equipment often contains materials that can be recycled such as glass, copper, iron, steel, aluminium, etc.

The Directive also decides which are the authorized waste treatment plants and which are the criteria for the safe treatment, the separation of the components, the recycle, the disposal and possible reuse of components in the production of new products.

The Directive in force is very strict, binding and with a precise disciplinary framework both for the companies and for the consumers, whose cooperation is fundamental to reach the goal of WEEE disposal at local collection centres.