Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE), Batteries & Packaging regulations place requirements on "producers" (typically importers, brand owners or manufacturers) to take environmental responsibility for their products and the associated packaging when they become waste.
One of the major challenges producers face, is the increasing number of laws & regulations there are across the globe. For example, a producer selling products across Europe alone must comply with over 90 regulations, each with different compliance registration and data reporting requirements!
Regulations for the proper disposal and recycling of WEEE require compliance in more and more countries around the world including the EU, Eastern Europe, North America, South America and Asia. On one hand, e-waste often contains hazardous substances that pose risks to the public and the environment if not disposed of properly. On the other hand, many raw materials found in e-waste can be recycled and used again.
The first European WEEE Directive 2002/96/EC serves as a model for many countries when it comes to the prevention, decrease and environmentally friendly disposal of e-waste. This Directive was replaced by the WEEE Directive 2012/19/EU (WEEE Recast), which entered into force on August 13, 2012 and has a much larger scope. All electrical and electronic appliances are covered as of mid August 2018. Other changes include increased collection and recycling requirements for manufacturers, an amendment to how producers are defined, stricter take-back obligations for large distributors as well as the new requirement for the appointment of a authorized representatives when distance selling into other countries.
Waste batteries and accumulators can contain hazardous substances such as mercury, lead and cadmium and should not be disposed of with household waste. Consequently, many countries have passed laws that require the take-back and proper recycling of batteries and limit the use of hazardous substances that can be used in batteries.
The EU has led the development of battery recycling regulations around the world with the first EU Directive 2006/66/EC for Waste Batteries and Accumulators. The second Directive 2013/56/EC sets even higher standards, for instance, uniform EU-wide collection and recycling quotas for waste batteries and accumulators as well as limits for the use of lead, cadmium and mercury. Manufacturers, importers and distributors of batteries and battery operated devices are responsible for taking back and disposing of waste batteries and accumulators.
Most packaging can be recycled into secondary raw materials which can be used to produce new packaging or other products. More and more countries around the world require waste packaging to be collected, seperated, sorted and recycled.
The EU passed the first Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive 94/62/EC in order to achieve this objective and reduce the amount of packaging disposed to landfil or incineration. This Directive, implemented in 1994, was the worlds first example of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulation, and has been expanded many times since then.
Many countries around the world have followed the EU’s example and have also implemented similar legislation. Countries include Macedonia, Belarus, Israel and Brazil as well as Asian countries like China and Japan.