WEEE Information

 The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directives are complex pieces of legislation working together. In particular, they both apply to the same range of products with some differences explained below.

WEEE/RoHS: the scope

By far the most frequent question asked about WEEE and RoHS is: ‘Is my product covered?’ It is a complex question. However, some things are important to keep in mind. Neither the European Commission nor, in theory, any EU Member State’s national government or enforcement authority is completely free to make determinations of the scope of WEEE and RoHS. Only national courts and the European Court of Justice have this power. In practice, you should pay attention to the opinion of national authorities in the countries where you are selling, bearing in mind that this opinion can be appealed via the courts. In the absence of clear guidance on scope from national authorities, U.S. companies may wish to obtain non-binding guidance from the European Commission. 

The WEEE/RoHS legal scope is based on the EU WEEE and RoHS Directives - derived from two different articles in the EU Treaties. Due to this discrepancy, the scope of WEEE is only indicative (Member States are free to increase the scope as they wish) and the scope of RoHS should be implemented uniformly throughout the EU’s Member States. However there is a problem because the RoHS Directive defines its – uniform – scope as being drawn from the indicative scope of the WEEE Directive.

The WEEE Directive is currently under review. The European Commission published its review proposals on December 2008. We are currently at the second reading stage, and new rules will probably take effect in 2012-2013. Significant changes such as a broader scope and increased requirements for equipment collection are expected to be made during this procedure.


The EU’s WEEE Directive is implemented in EU Member States countries by national WEEE regulations, which differ considerably from country to country. 

FYI: Countries others than EU Member States, such as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Turkey, may have similar legislation.