Is Your EMS Partner Up to Speed With WEEE 'Open Scope?'


Reading time ( words)

As the commercial and household use of electrical and electronic equipment continues to grow, so does the mass of electrical waste (or e-waste) that is left behind when these products reach the end of their useful life. E-waste encompasses a myriad of “unseen” metals, semi-metals, and chemical compounds that are found inside circuit boards, wires, and electrical connections.

If not handled correctly, chemicals—such as cadmium, barium, lithium, lead, mercury, and beryllium—can present a significant health risk through direct contact, the inhalation of toxic fumes, or the build-up of toxins in water, soil, and food products. In the U.K. alone, an estimated two million tonnes of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) is discarded by companies and householders every year. And the amount of e-waste discarded worldwide annually is believed to be between 30 and 40 million tonnes.

Under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations, any business that places electrical or electronic products on the U.K. market is required to take responsibility for reducing material use, enhancing recyclability and ensuring that its e-waste is correctly disposed of. The 2013 WEEE Regulations, which came into effect in January 2014, listed what was referred to as a “closed scope” of electrical and electronic products that covered 13 broad categories: 

  1. Large household appliances (e.g., cookers, fridges, washing machines)
  2. Small household appliances (e.g., clocks, toasters, vacuum cleaners, irons)
  3. IT and telecommunications equipment (e.g., computers, copiers, phones)
  4. Consumer electronics (e.g., radios, camcorders, hi-fi, musical instruments)
  5. Lighting (e.g., fluorescent tubes, high-intensity discharge lamps)
  6. Electronic and electrical tools (e.g., electric lawnmowers, drills, saws)
  7. Toys, leisure, and sports equipment (e.g., games consoles, running machines)
  8. Medical devices (e.g., cardiology equipment, dialysis machines, medical freezers)
  9. Monitoring and control equipment (e.g., thermostats, smoke detectors, heating regulators)
  10. Automatic dispensers (e.g., cash and hot drinks dispensers)
  11. Appliances containing refrigerants (e.g., fridges, freezers, air conditioners, fire suppression systems)
  12. LED light sources and gas discharge lamps
  13. Photovoltaic (PV) panels (e.g., solar panels and arrays)

Until this year, if an electronic or electrical product was not specifically referred to in any one of the previously listed categories, then it was considered to be “out of scope” and exempt from the regulations. As of January 2019, however, changes to the WEEE legislation at European level mean that all electrical items are considered to be “open scope” unless they are proved to either be covered by a specific exemption or to not meet the definition of EEE.

Additions to the EEE Product List

Products that have come into scope since January 2019 include: 

  • Plugs, sockets, switches, and dimmers
  • Fuse boxes, circuit breakers, and junction boxes that are supplied as finished products
  • Energy management systems used to control temperature or lighting levels in industrial buildings
  • Water taps with automatic sensors or additional safety features
  • Air conditioning units and integrated air filtering and extraction systems
  • Furniture that includes a fundamental electrical function, such as electrically reclining chairs and massage chairs and tables with wireless charging units (but not including furniture for medical purposes)
  • Wearable tech, such as t-shirts with heart rate monitors

Which Items Are Exempt?

Products that remain exempt or are excluded from the scope of EEE include: 

  • Electrical or electronic items that have been designed for the purposes of protecting a country's security, such as military arms or munitions
  • Products that have been designed and installed into any form of “out of scope” equipment, such as satellite navigation systems installed in a plane, boat, or car
  • Implantable medical devices
  • Products designed only for research and development (R&D) and sold B2B
  • Large-scale stationary industrial tools and assemblies of equipment used in industrial manufacturing or R&D facilities

Who Is Responsible for Ensuring WEEE Compliance?

Any company that manufactures, imports, or resells electrical or electronic products under their own brand is considered to be a producer of EEE and must ensure the correct collection, treatment, reuse, recovery, recycling, and environmentally sound disposal of their electrical waste products. All manufacturers who are producing EEE have a responsibility to manage their waste and help protect people, the environment, and our natural resources.

Companies placing less than 5 tonnes of EEE on the market each year can register directly with their environmental regulator as a small producer. Producers who place in excess of 5 tonnes on the market per year are required to join a producer compliance scheme or PCS, which will take control of the collection, treatment, recovery, and environmentally safe disposal of the WEEE.

For further clarification, the U.K. Environment Agency has created a useful guide to electrical and electronic equipment covered by the WEEE Regulations to help you determine whether your products are included or exempt.

Neil Sharp is the director of marketing for JJS Manufacturing.

Share




Suggested Items

SMTAI 2021: Rob DiMatteo Turns Up the Heat at BTU

12/15/2021 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
At SMTA International 2021, Nolan Johnson spoke with Rob DiMatteo of BTU International about the current shift in market drivers, pain points from customers, and what he expects to see in the near future. Chip shortages and port delays are just two of the challenges facing BTU’s customers. As general manager of BTU, DiMatteo wants his company to excel at customer service despite these challenges. He also previews a new flux management technology for keeping reflow ovens extremely clean, calling it a significant breakthrough.

Design to Production Flow: DFT and Test Coverage Using Industry 4.0 Principles to Produce Good Products

12/01/2021 | William Webb, ASTER Technologies
Achieving design for test (DFT) can be challenging for both design and test groups, as sometimes both expect that the other will be the one to manage DFT. The design and test groups might be in the same organization, or they could be an OEM vs. an EMS company. It works best if both the design and test groups are engaged in the process of DFT and trying to achieve the goal of the best test coverage and lowest rate of field returns.

This Month in SMT007 Magazine: The Skilled Worker

01/05/2021 | Leo Lambert, EPTAC
Why do we train and educate our employees? Here, I will share my perspective based on what is happening in facilities trying to outsource their products, as I see that many companies are losing the tribal knowledge of how things are manufactured and the basic skills necessary to physically build a product.



Copyright © 2022 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.