Electronic waste (WEEE directive)
U.S. companies selling electrical and electronic goods in the European Union (EU) are required to comply with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (“WEEE” Directive – Directive 2012/19/EU of July 2012). Its objective is to contribute to the efficient use of resources, reduce the amount of e-waste entering the landfill and encourage the reuse and recycling of electrical and electronic equipment.
Since 15 August 2018, all electrical and electronic equipment are covered by the directive, except for the ones specifically excluded. The WEEE directive covers electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) used by consumers (B2C) and EEE intended for professional use (B2B).
WEEE requirements include:
- Registration and reporting to national authorities on volumes of EEE placed on their market
- Organizing and/or financing the collection, treatment, recycling and recovery of WEEE and providing specific information to recycling companies.
- Labeling products with the ‘crossed out wheelie bin’ symbol to allow for correct disposal by end-users.
WEEE implementation varies across the EU from country to country, with procedures and costs differing. It is essential for companies to ensure that they are aware of national WEEE legislation in the Member States where they intend to do business.
For the full report, please email the Commercial Service at the U.S. Mission to the EU.
The revised WEEE Directive was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on July 24, 2012. The new legislation is often called the “WEEE Recast Directive”.
RoHS: Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances
RoHS is the EU Directive that restricts the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic products (EEE products). ROHS II, adopted in 2011, is an “open scope” directive which means that by July 22, 2019 it will apply to all EEE products that are “dependent on electric current or electromagnetic fields for at least one intended function. The current list of restricted substances is found in Annex II of the directive and currently includes: lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and diisobutyl (DIBP).
RoHS mandates that EEE products must not contain more than 0.1% weight by weight of homogenous material of any listed substance. Cadmium is an exception to this rule where the EU prohibits products from containing more than 0.01% of this substance. Homogenous material means a material that cannot be mechanically disjointed into different materials.
Exemptions and Exclusions
Some product categories may fall outside the scope of ROHS (are excluded). In other cases, the European Commission may have issued a limited exemption allowing a restricted substance to be used for a certain purpose. In either situation, the European Commission adopts a very narrow interpretation of these provisions. U.S. exporters should consult the text of the Directive, contact our office, or seek specialized guidance if they have questions on whether their products benefit from an exclusion from the scope of the Directive or an exemption for the use of the restricted substance.
RoHS II exempts certain applications from the substance restrictions. The exemptions are temporary and reviewed at least every four years. The current list of exemptions is contained in Annex III. The European Commission has amended Annex III several times. See a complete list of those amendments.
Specific exemptions for medical devices and monitoring and control instruments are listed in Annex IV of ROHS II.
U.S. exporters that wish to seek an exemption from the application of the Directive to their products can find the application requirements listed in Annex V of the Directive. Applications should be submitted to the European Commission Directorate General for Environment located at:
Environment DG, Unit C2
B - 1049 Brussels
The European Commission has published the two guidance documents to assist companies seeking an exemption.
Permanent exclusions from RoHS include the following: military equipment, space equipment, equipment designed to be part of another piece of equipment falling outside the scope of RoHS, large scale industry tools, large scale fixed installations, means of transport for persons or goods, non-road mobile machinery, active implantable medical devices, photovoltaic panels, equipment for research and development only available business to business. As noted above, the European Commission adopts a very narrow interpretation of the categories of products to which these exclusions apply.
Labeling and CE Marking
RoHS II is a CE Mark Directive. This means that each product covered by ROHS must have technical testing and accompanying documents, a declaration of conformity, and the CE marking affixed to the product. The format of the declaration of conformity is outlined in Annex VI of the Directive. The CE mark for ROHS products entered into force on 2 January 2013.
In addition to regular updates on substance restrictions, the European Commission will be reviewing the ROHS Directive and is expected to prepare a new proposal by 2021.
Legal Documents and Guidance
ROHS II Directive
U.S. businesses exporting products covered by RoHS II may find the European Commission’s website on this topic useful.
Questions and further information
Please contact us at Office.BrusselsEC@trade.gov.
The revised RoHS Directive was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on January 7, 2011. Although it is also considered a “recast” Directive, it is more commonly known as the “RoHS II Directive”.
WEEE/RoHS: Useful external links
- European Commission & EU Member States governments
- The European Commission’s official WEEE/RoHS webpages contain information about WEEE and ROHS.
- The European Commission’s Comitology Register is an official EU website where you can search for documents relating to the activities of the EU Committee that manages several aspects of the implementation of WEEE and RoHS, including RoHS exemptions and harmonization work. The EU Committee includes EU Member States governments’ representatives and chaired by the European Commission. This site can be difficult to navigate. It is important to select the ‘ENV Committee for the adaptation to scientific and technical progress and implementation of the directives on waste’ in the drop-down. Please feel free to ask for our assistance.
- The UK Government provides a substantial amount of useful guidance for understanding basic WEEE/RoHS concepts in English. Please note however that this guidance concerns only the UK.
- UK’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills WEEE webpage
- UK’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills RoHS webpage
- Industry associations
- Orgalime is the largest European electrical industry trade association, which provides excellent guidance on the scope of RoHS and other WEEE/RoHS information.
- DigitalEurope is the largest European ICT trade association.
If you have additional questions, please send an email referencing ‘WEEE/RoHS Inquiry’ in the subject line.
WEEE/RoHS Country-by-country Information
The EU’s WEEE and RoHS Directives are implemented in EU Member States countries by national WEEE and RoHS regulations. Therefore, we encourage U.S. companies to get further information on WEEE and RoHS in the countries where they seek to export.