WEEE Directive: Consequences of the Open Scope

The recently introduced Open Scope with new six categories poses new challenges for producers who also sell electrical and electronic equipment in other European countries: On the one hand in assigning their products to the correct categories, but also in reporting them to the compliance schemes.

As of August 2018, or January 2019 (depending on the country), electrical and electronic products that are subject to the WEEE Directive 2012/19/EU, must also be reported in other European countries. What does this mean for Producers?

Open Scope: Assignment of products to new categories in other EU countries

The WEEE Directive was actually meant to lead to a harmonisation of the individual national laws. The revision of the WEEE Directive therefore provided for introducing six product categories, for example. However, different European countries have implemented the revisions in different ways.

Almost all compliance schemes operate with new categories. Countries like Belgium, Luxembourg and the UK are sticking to their old product categories, for example. In the case of the UK, there are 13 categories in all. In Greece, a distinction is now made within each of the 10 existing product categories, differentiating between large and small appliances (larger or smaller than 50 cm). In France, the compliance schemes have introduced subcategories to the six product categories.

In addition, the compliance schemes have often adjusted their prices to allow for the increased cost involved.

What concrete action is required of Producers now?

Companies need to adjust their inventory management systems accordingly and store the appropriate categories. Furthermore, producers need to check individually for each country, whether their products fall under the national law and which category their products are assigned to in the respective country. The following examples show that the amendment of the WEEE directive are implemented differently.

Example from selected countries: Implementation in Austria

In Austria, for example, the principal or basic function of products determines whether or not those products are subject to the national law. If the principal or basic function of a device depends on electrical energy, such products have to comply with the law in Austria. For this reason, furniture with electrical functionality is not covered by the law (except for mirrored bathroom cabinets whose lighting is key to their function, steam showers, whirlpools or vanity mirrors). Textiles and garments with electrical functionality are handled in the same way in Austria. Since their principal function is still that of items of clothing, they are not covered by the Austrian law.

However, since the classification of the products can change, in both cases an inquiry should be made with the Austrian Environment Agency to confirm that the furniture or garments are not covered by the law.

Example from selected countries: Implementation in France

France has long had separate regulations for disposing of furniture and textiles. These have to be reported to the respective collection system. For this reason, furniture and textiles with electrical functionality are not regarded as electrical and electronic Equipment.


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