Get to know the Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive

The amount of electrical and electronic equipment waste generated in the EU every year is rising. Consisting of things like computer monitors, refrigerators and old cell phones, it is one of the fastest-growing waste streams. 

In response, the EU has developed rules about WEEE to increase sustainable production and consumption, with a focus on the environment and human health. Discarding old electronics can involve many risks since this kind of waste consists of a complex blend of materials, including hazardous substances. 

Many electronics also contain substances like gold, copper and aluminum which have the potential to be recycled and reused as part of a more circular economy.

Where it applies

The Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive applies throughout the European Union.

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  • Preventing waste from electrical and electronic goods from being created

  • Ensuring resources are used efficiently and secondary raw materials, like precious metals, are recovered for reuse and recycling

  • Boosting the environmental performance of everyone involved in the life cycle of electric and electronic equipment


  • Electrical and electronic equipment waste will have to be separately collected and properly treated with the goal of reaching set targets that extend into recovery and recycling

  • Disguising illegal shipments of electrical and electronic equipment waste will be made more difficult, making it easier for countries to fight the problem

  • Electrical and electronic equipment registers will be harmonized across countries to diminish administrative burdens 

What this means for you

If you handle WEEE, you may have to follow rules regarding how it’s collected, transported and treated, among other things. You might also want to consider joining a WEEE consortium, which hires expert firms to collect and recycle this waste on behalf of member companies. Recyclers of WEEE may have to abide by new policies as well, and some components of this waste may require special treatment.

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How we can help

If you need help understanding the WEEE directive, please contact your Avery Dennison Smartrac representative for more information.