Demonstration, Research, and Development Units: when are they considered WEEE in the European Union?
A question often asked is “when are demonstration units or research electrical devices exempted from being categorized as WEEE in the EU?”. The EU WEEE Directive 2012/19/EU in Article 2(4)(f) states that an exemption applies to:
“equipment specifically designed solely for the purposes of research and development that is only made available on a business-to-business basis;”
The intention of this exemption is to not create burdens with electronic waste laws that would stifle innovation, research, and development.
The European Commission’s guidance in the Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) reference defines the circumstances when the exemption does not apply:
“Standard equipment, such as monitoring devices or instruments for chemical analysis and other laboratory equipment, that can be used both for R&D applications and in commercial or other applications does not benefit from this exclusion. Neither does the exclusion apply to equipment designed and placed on the market to test, validate or monitor R&D equipment and/or prototypes”
It is important to note that whilst the FAQ is not a legally binding document, the guidance carries significant weight when determining applicability of the rules.
This means demonstration units are not exempted and are considered WEEE in the European Union. The key defining feature for exemption is products that are still in a conceptual stage, such as a product in development, still being designed, and not yet in production. Finished products placed on the market for evaluation by potential clients are WEEE and as such carry the associated compliance obligations. If you would like to check to see if your products are exempted or not, please contact us at Accerio to discuss an obligation assessment.
Financial Guarantee In Europe Overview
In some EU countries WEEE Producers are required to have a Financial Guarantee in place. If it is required in an EU country where a registration is in place, then you should already be compliant with this requirement and Accerio will have put it in place for you.
What is a financial guarantee, and why is this requirement in place?
The intention of the WEEE directive 2012/19/EU is that those who place products on the European market (i.e. producers) should finance the costs of the end of life management of these products. This includes a provision that in the event that the company ceases to exist, the costs of managing their products does not fall on society or on other producers.
The financial guarantee also represents one of the rules governing how waste can be shipped into or out of a country. Producers must ensure that there is enough money available for the Environment Agencies to deal with the waste if the shipment is not completed, including the cost of returning the exported waste.
The costs are calculated according to the amount of EEE placed on the market, taking into consideration that will one day it will become waste (i.e. WEEE).
The producer can choose to fulfil this obligation individually or in many EU countries can satisfy the requirements by joining a collective scheme. If complying individually, in principal there are two major approaches for the individual guarantee:
- bank deposit/blocked account (in cash)
- bank guarantee (on a contractual basis with a monthly interest to be paid by the notifier)
EU Member States agree that the financial guarantee itself depends on the hazardousness of the waste, quantity, transportation route, etc., and it is strictly calculated according to the national/regional formulas. The totals can differ because the disposal costs and quantities for the waste vary greatly. In some regions, as a rule, companies apply for partial guarantees, covering only a subset of transports at a time.
For many companies, the financial guarantee will never be used, as long as the company remains functioning; but it is important that a contingency exists in case it is ever needed.
Africa: Electronic Waste Extended Producer Obligations Overview
In Africa market failures are generating pressure for an increase in implementation of WEEE/E-Waste laws, with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs, and associated compliance requirements.
Currently only Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa have legislation in force that is binding, with varying degrees of operational capacity. The definition of obligated producers and products covered by these laws varies, but most include foreign manufacturers in the definition of obligated Producers. Kenya has WEEE legislation in place and Cameroon has proposed legislation in progress, with both still to implement fully operational EPR programs.
Africa has rapidly growing electronic waste streams from both imported E-waste and second-hand electronics, as well as local generation. The UN Global E-waste Monitor estimates that less than 1% of all the E-Waste in Africa is currently collected, with the growth in electronic waste generated expected to reach a net volume of over 50 million tonnes in total by 2020.
The capacity for growth in this region is manifest, and along with insufficient municipal funding to address the problem, there is an increased interest in development of EPR programs. Given the need for solutions, it is expected that other countries in Africa will follow suit with their own electronic waste laws including EPR programs.
If you are selling electronics products into Africa and wish to understand your obligations, please contact us at Accerio to discuss a compliance obligation assessment.