New study highlights scale of WEEE non-compliance

An EU-wide study into waste electrical and electronic equipment compliance has found that a significant number of products sold through online marketplaces are non-compliant with national WEEE requirements

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EucoLight, the European Association for lighting compliance schemes, undertook a study of over 3,000 products made available for sale through online marketplaces in 10 EU countries.  The results showed an exceptionally high level of non-compliance with national requirements for financing the treatment of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). 

The non-compliance was evident across a wide range of product groups. However, smaller products, such as LED lightbulbs, were particularly problematic, with non-compliance in the range of 78-100%.

EucoLight chairman Hervé Grimaud said “We are very disturbed by the high level of evasion of WEEE obligations that our study has uncovered.  With the rapid growth of sales through online marketplaces, the unfair competitive advantage is creating real commercial damage to compliant businesses.”

Presenters from Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic and the UK gave the meeting updates on approaches to tackle the evasion on their national territories. These showed different ways of closing the legislative gaps, and improving enforcement.  Representatives of the Commission presented longer term solutions within the Waste Directive, and a new Digital Services Act.

Delegates from online platforms also gave their views.  Some stated they should bear no responsibility for WEEE compliance, with others indicating they are willing to take responsibility within new legislative approaches. The event ended with a panel discussion, which concluded that WEEE non-compliance creates significant economic damage for compliant European traders and producers, and their WEEE schemes.

Commenting on the outcome of the discussions, EucoLight Secretary General Marc Guiraud said “It seems likely that Member States will implement a range of different solutions to address this injustice.  In part, that is because the scale of the problem means we must move faster than the time taken to implement EU wide solutions.  When considering which approach to adopt, EucoLight actively encourages all Member States to require online marketplaces to fulfil the role of producer, in respect of all product brought into the national territory via their platform.”