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Parliament approves recast of WEEE Directive: extension of the mandatory take-back obligation still an issue for commerce


19 Jan 2012


Climate & Environment

The recast WEEE Directive will bring some welcome improvements, but commerce regrets these may be outweighed by the mandatory take-back provisions. 

Today, the European Parliament confirmed the trialogue agreement reached at the end of December on the recast of the WEEE Directive (waste electrical and electronic equipment). The changes will bring some advancement towards greater freedom of movement of electrical and electronic equipment; however it will impose a duty on retailers to take-back small volume WEEE, which may actually damage the long-term effectiveness of recycling provisions in the EU.

Christian Verschueren, EuroCommerce Director General said, “Our concern is that shops will eventually turn into collection points and that distributors take on responsibilities which rightly lie in the hands of producers and municipalities. We therefore particularly welcome the provision, whereby existing alternative schemes for collection must be maintained, not duplicated.” 

The commerce sector fully supports the principles of the internal market and has consistently encouraged efforts to increase the free movement of goods. We have always fully supported the environmental objectives of the WEEE Directive to improve the recycling of electrical and electronic equipment and contribute to resource efficiency.  

We therefore welcome the improvements introduced by the recast, which are a first step towards more harmonisation and reduced bureaucracy, thus helping small businesses and contributing to a better-functioning internal market. Nevertheless, there is still major concern about the long-term implications on the commerce sector of the new mandatory take-back of small volume WEEE by retailers . 


Marjolein Raes

Director Advocacy & Communications

T: +32 2 737 05 99

EuroCommerce and the commerce sector

EuroCommerce represents the retail, wholesale and international trade sectors in Europe. Its membership includes commerce federations and companies in 31 European countries. 

Commerce plays a unique role in the European economy, acting as the link between manufacturers and the nearly 500 million consumers across Europe over a billion times a day. It is a dynamic and labour-intensive sector, generating 11% of the EU’s GDP. One company out of three in Europe is active in the commerce sector. Over 95% of the 6 million companies in commerce are small and medium-sized enterprises. It also includes some of Europe’s most successful companies. The sector is a major source of employment creation: 31 million Europeans work in commerce, which is one of the few remaining job-creating activities in Europe. It also supports millions of dependent jobs throughout the supply chain from small local suppliers to international businesses.

1 In the absence of alternative existing collection schemes, the possibility exists for consumers to return small volume WEEE (less than 25cm) on a 0:1 basis to shops with sales areas of electronic equipment of 400 m² regardless of whether or not the item itself or a new product was bought there.