Crack down on WEEE free riders
A new regulation will be implemented in 2021 stipulating that all online retailers must take responsibility for ensuring compliance documentation for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is verified by an economic operator within the EU.
Any retailer selling electrical goods must follow government regulations and provide a way for customers to dispose of the electrical items, either by providing a free in store take back service, or by setting up an alternative free take back service.
The WEEE Regulations 2013 state that: ‘Producers of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) are responsible for financing and ensuring the disposal of end-of-life products in an environmentally sound way arising from both household and non-household users.’
However, with increasing use of online shopping platforms and marketplaces such as Amazon, identifying producer responsibility can be more complicated, leading to the practice of ‘free-riding.’ This is where online retailers sell products directly to households in the EU from producers based outside of the EU and are therefore not registered with WEEE compliance schemes, avoiding national producer responsibility obligations, including paying compliance fees.