Today, the Council agreed on its negotiating mandate on proposed amendments to EU law on the collection and management of waste from electrical and electronic equipment which includes a range of products such as computers, fridges and photovoltaic panels.
The amendments aim to bring the waste electronic and electronic equipment (WEEE) directive in line with an EU Court of Justice judgment on the unjustified retroactive application of extended producer responsibility to waste from photovoltaic panels placed on the market between 13 August 2005 and 13 August 2012.
The matter dates back to 2012, when the then new WEEE Directive entered into force, bringing photovoltaic panels into the scope of the previous WEEE Directive. The Directive also implemented an ‘open scope’ as of 15 August 2018, meaning that all EEE products were considered to be in scope unless specifically excluded.
In its judgment in case C-18/20 of 25 January 2022, the Court of Justice of the European Union declared some parts of the WEEE directive as being partially invalid due to non-justified retroactive effects. The Court held that according to the new directive the financing of the waste collection, treatment, recovery and disposal costs (extended producer responsibility) retroactively applied to photovoltaic panels placed on the market since 13 August 2005. The conclusion to be drawn from the judgement was that extended producer responsibility also applied retroactively to products which were added to the scope in 2018.
Overall, the proposed amendments consequently aim to align the Directive with the Court judgment which states that the financing of the costs relating to the management of waste from photovoltaic panels placed on the market after 13 August 2012 rests with the producer. In addition, the revision proposes that extended producer responsibility for the products that were added in 2018 should apply to products that were put on the market after that date.
Main changes by the Council
The Council’s negotiating mandate endorses the contents of the Commission’s initial proposal and further clarifies the interlinkages with relevant provisions in the Waste Framework Directive.
It also extends the transposition period of the new Directive from 12 to 18 months. It is the same transposition period as was applied when the directive entered into force 2012.
Once the Parliament’s position has been finalised, the Council and Parliament will start negotiations to agree on the final shape of the revised legislation. The outcome of the negotiations will then need to be formally adopted by both institutions.
The Commission adopted its proposal to bring a targeted amendment to the WEEE Directive on 7 February 2023.
Waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) includes a large range of devices such as computers, fridges and mobile phones at the end of their life. The amount of WEEE generated every year in the EU is increasing rapidly. It is now one of the fastest growing waste streams.
This type of waste contains a complex mixture of materials, some of which are hazardous. and can cause major environmental and health problems if the discarded devices are not managed properly. In addition, modern electronics contain rare and expensive resources, which can be recycled if the waste is effectively managed.
EU rules on WEEE aim to contribute to sustainable production and consumption.