Open Scope: New rules for the sale of electronic equipment also apply in other EU countries

A number of changes came into force on 15th August 2018 as a result of the WEEE Directive 2012/19 – not only in Germany but throughout Europe. The existing ten product categories were reduced to six, and the so-called “Open Scope” was introduced. But what exactly does this mean?

From ten categories to six

The following six categories have been newly defined.

  • Category 1: Temperature exchange equipment
  • Category 2: Screens and monitors
  • Category  3: Lamps
  • Category 4: Large equipment
  • Category 5: Small equipment
  • Category 6: Small IT and telecommunication equipment

Introduction of the Open Scope

The scope of the Directive was extended so that more products are now covered by the Directive than was previously the case. Before, products only had to comply with the law if they matched one of the ten WEEE categories. If they did not, they were not classified as electronic products and were therefore not considered within the scope of the law. This has now changed. All products that are by definition electrical or electronic devices are covered by the WEEE Directive and must be registered. The six new categories are more general than before, so that every product can be assigned to one category or another. In many EU countries, for example, products such as household lamps, smartcards and printing cartridges fitted with chips were not previously within the scope of the law.

What must companies watch out for now?

Just as in Germany, manufacturers and importers also need to check whether their products are now covered by the WEEE Directive in other countries, in which they sell them. Manufacturers and importers who have already registered their products need to check – as in Germany – whether a change in their registration is necessary.

Have the national requirements been harmonised?

The revision of the WEEE Directive was supposed to lead to a harmonisation of the categories and therefore of the national implementations. However, the WEEE Directive continues to be implemented on a national level and many countries have decided to further subdivide the six categories. This means that companies need to find out about the individual national implementations and adjust their inventory management systems accordingly.

What is the status in different countries?

The Open Scope has now been implemented in many countries – aside from Germany – including

  • Austria
  • Poland
  • France
  • Finland
  • Spain
  • and Italy.

As of 1st January 2019, the Open Scope will also apply in the following countries:

  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Ireland
  • Sweden
  • Netherland
  • UK (The UK keeps the 13 cateogires and do not adjust to six.)

We can help you to sell your electronic products in conformity with the WEEE Directive. If you are interested, please get in touch with us.


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