The European Council and Parliament find a way to move forward with the Court’s WEEE Directive ruling

The EU Parliament and Council struck an accord to update the new EEE Directive by January 25, 2022.

E-waste electronic, computer circuit cpu chip mainboard core processor electronics device.

After much deliberation, the European Parliament and Council came to a provisional political agreement concerning on proposed amendments to the EU law on the collection and management of electronic waste.

On January 25, 2022, the European Court of Justice decided in case C-181/20 that the 13 August 2012 directive on collecting and managing waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) was unjustly applied. Reference was made to the Directive’s look back period, which stipulates that extended producer responsibility includes photovoltaic panels placed onto the market since 13 August 2005. The Court found an issue with the products placed within the Directive in 2018.

The provisional agreement outlines that:

  1. The cost of managing and disposing of waste from photovoltaic panels placed on the market after 13 August 2012 rests with the producer of the EEE.
  2. The extended producer responsibility for EEE products added to the Directive’s scope in 2018 only applies to products introduced to the market post-2018 date.

Other provisions in the agreement extended to the need to evaluate the impact of the Directive by 2026 at the latest, specifically to ensure that customers and citizens do not bear the costs of managing and disposing of WEEE products. The proposed agreement now awaits endorsement from member states’ representatives within the Council and the Parliament’s Environment Committee.

Why does it matter?

The provisional agreement brings the region closer to invigorating the circular economy. In light of the growing e-waste problem in Europe and across the globe, the agreement allows for fairness in implementing ‘the polluter pays’ mechanism to ensure all hands are on deck, precisely that of the private sector. In the EU, 12.4 million tonnes of EEE are put onto the market, while only 4.7 million tonnes are collected with 10.5 kilograms per person.