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Interpretation of household WEEE widened to include workplace

The European Commission (EC) has said any electrical and electronic equipment used by businesses that could also be used in a private household should come under the same reporting requirements.

The EC’s newly published FAQ on the Directive reveals that items such as computers or mobiles that are used in a commercial context should be treated under the same regulations as household waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). FAQ Article 4.6 explains the definition.

This conflicts with the UK Government’s interpretation of the rules. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills’ (BIS) transposition of the EU Directive into the UK WEEE Regulations did not just take the type of electronics into account but also the volume of items.

A BIS spokesperson said: “We (along with other member states) will review the whole of the FAQ document and consider the extent that it reflects our own interpretation of the WEEE Directive.”

BIS has already set WEEE collection targets for 2014, but the EU definition of household EEE appears to change the grounds on which these targets were set.

Phil Conran, director at consultancy 360 Environmental, said: “The FAQ interpretation would seem to suggest that the agencies will find it difficult to prevent some business WEEE being used to meet household WEEE obligations this year.”

He said this could have significant implications in the IT sector if some of the large producers will be able to take advantage of their own collection and reuse networks to meet their evidence needs.

BIS refused to comment on whether it would adjust the household WEEE collection targets for this year as a result of the clarifications, and did not confirm whether the collection targets have been fixed.

Conran added: “For 2014, it is assumed that the fixed targets will be left alone, but for 2015 onwards, businesses will have to change their reporting and this could lead to some having a sharp rise in obligation. Fluorescent tubes, for instance, should all be reported as household EEE.”

  • This month MRW reported that Producer Compliance Schemes will not know what the compliance fee for failing to reach collection targets will be until after year-end.

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