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WEEE Directive: ‘Yes’ to its objectives, ‘No’ to its instruments


21 Dec 2011


Trade & Society

EuroCommerce welcomes the trialogue agreement on WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) as a small step in the right direction towards more harmonisation, less bureaucracy and a better functioning internal market.

Yesterday, Parliament and Council struck an agreement on the recast of the WEEE Directive, which attempts to address some of the shortcomings of the current Directive. However, mandatory take-back of small volume WEEE by retailers is maintained.

The commerce sector has always fully supported the objectives of the WEEE Directive: to improve the recycling of electrical and electronic equipment and contribute to resource efficiency. However, commerce is concerned at the long-term implications of the new take-back rules. 

“This new obligation will create practical problems for retailers especially as regards safe storage,” said EuroCommerce Director General, Christian Verschueren. “Collecting appliances which retailers do not even sell is, in effect, turning shops into collection points. Our concern is that by shifting responsibility from the producer to other players, we destroy the incentives for producers to manufacture more environmentally friendly products.

The agreement as regards take-back of all small volume WEEE (less than 25cm) on a 0:1 basis¹ in retail shops is an improvement on the European Parliament’s original proposal. The obligation will be restricted to retail shops with sales areas of electronic equipment of 400 m² and over and in the absence of alternative existing collection schemes. 

This new obligation will prove a real challenge in countries where collection infrastructure is less advanced. We very much fear retailers will have to bear all the responsibilities and burdens while also being unable to dispose of the collected WEEE. On the other hand, we particularly welcome that this compromise recognises existing alternative schemes must be maintained, not duplicated.” concluded Verschueren.

¹ The possibility for consumers to return items to shops regardless of whether or not the item itself or a new product was bought there.


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.