In 2010, in the 27 member states of the European Union plus Norway and Switzerland, 11.5 million tons of electrical and electronic equipment were placed on the market. The quantity of WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) ‘arising’ in that same year is estimated to be approximately 7.9 million tons. Less than half of that quantity, 3.1 million tons, is officially collected, treated and reported to the authorities.
WEEE contains precious metals, such as gold and silver, as well as other metals, such as copper and aluminium. For centuries, the costs associated with recycling have been recovered through the sale of those materials extracted from end-of-life products. The trouble is that these materials are also often found next to critical raw materials, such as palladium and neodymium, which Europe’s economy requires for the production of electronics, as well as hazardous substances, for example mercury, brominated flame retardants, polychlorinated biphenyls, cadmium and volatile fluorocarbons. The latter materials require specialist handling and treatment in order to avoid environmental pollution and exposure to health and safety risks. WEEE containing those substances are often not properly de-polluted in Europe or shipped to poor countries under the guise of ‘export for re-use’.
Clearly, standards are required to regulate collection, sorting, handling, storage, transportation, treatment and disposal of WEEE, rules must be laid down to decide whether an undertaking’s processes deserve to be identified as ‘excellent’, and auditors must be trained to verify whether undertakings involved in collection and treatment meet those standards. The WEEELABEX project’s stated ambition was to protect the environment by improving WEEE collection and recycling practices in Europe.
On 28 July 2008, the LIFE committee, an EU panel composed of representatives of the member states and of the European Commission, approved the WEEE Forum's "WEEELABEX" project proposal (LIFE07 ENV/B/000041). WEEELABEX was a four-years, multi-stakeholder project aimed at laying down a set of European standards with respect to collection, handling, storage, recycling, preparation for re-use and disposal of WEEE and monitoring the processing companies through audits conducted by auditors trained by the WEEELABEX Office. All WEEELABEX auditors will use the same audit process documents, apply the same set of standards and report their findings to the WEEELABEX Office, which will list the processes that have successfully undergone conformity verification.
Attached you will find all deliverables related to WEEELABEX. The WEEELABEX organisation was set up in Prague on 17 April 2013.
On 4 June 2013, the Standards Qualification Panel of EPEAT, a green products rating system, qualified the WEEELABEX standards, making it easier for manufacturers to market greener products.
The standards (see below) are featured in several languages in addition to English: German, Polish, Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese.
NOTE: Any references to Directive 2002/96/EC appearing on the WEEELABEX Standard V10, should be considered as references to the corresponding section of Directive 2012/19/EC (recast of Directive 2002/96/EC). See Annex XII ‘’Correlation table’’ on Directive 2012/19/EC for more information.
You can find different languages translations of the standards as well as other WEEELABEX related documents here.