WEEE EPR law implementation: case in Italy

In Italy, the EU Directive 2012/19/UE regarding electric and electronic equipment waste (WEEE) was adopted on 14th March 2014 with Legal Decree n.49 (further Legal Decree n.49). This establish roles and responsibilities for all key stakeholders in the WEEE recycling.

The law has two main objectives:

  1. Prevent or reduce the negative impacts of EEE, from development to production, all the way to EEE waste management;
  2. Reduce the negative impacts, and increase resource efficiency in order to achieve sustainable development objectives.

The law also introduces a new WEEE management system defined as “all actors”: it is more open to the market and competition, and accessible not only to producers and local authorities, but also to PROs and Distributors.

Other new elements include:

  • Increase in WEEE collection Targets;
  • Simplification and improvement of administrative procedures related to the collection process;
  • More vigorous checks and monitoring of treatment plants and of exports, in order to limit illegal activities;
  • A more important role for Distributors;
  • Immediate extension of the scope of application of the law to solar panels and other EEE
  • Obligation for large Distributors to collect household WEEE free of charge;
  • Strengthening of the sole of the WEEE Clearing House;
  • Obligation to mark the EEE put on the market;
  • New obligations for producers of EEE, who must adhere to individual systems, or collective systems for WEEE management.

The law also includes the following measures for the improvement of WEEE monitoring:

  • Treatment plants are obliged to become members of the National WEEE Clearing House, and must communicate the amounts of WEEE they have treated to the Clearing House once a year.
  • Distributors will be able to bring the household WEEE they collect free of charge directly to treatment plants authorized to handle WEEE.

Article 15 of Decree number 49/2014 dictates that an Agreement must be drawn up between regional industry associations representing distributors, businesses carrying out waste collection, producers who are members of the WEEE Coordination Center and ANCI.

The February 9th, 2015 Program Agreement

On the 9th of February 2015 the new program agreement was signed in Milan between the National Italian Municipalities Association (ANCI), the WEEE Clearing House (WEEE CH), EEE producers, and the Associations of Waste Collection Companies in order to define the general terms regarding the collection and management of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).

This new agreement is valid for three years and has been effective since 2015. It defines important frameworks and developments relevant to the management of WEEE in Italy.

It replaces the Program Agreement that has been in effect since 2011. It offers assurances and guarantees regarding the treatment phase from an environmental point of view while using actionable laws, which are definite and simple.

The Program Agreement and the attached General Conditions for Waste Removal provide definitions for, among others:

  • The containers leased by the Collective Systems to the Collection Centers free of charge;
  • The minimum collected quantity and capacity of the containers for the proper functioning of the Collective Systems’ waste removal services;
  • The awarding of prizes based on efficiency;
  • The levels of service and the maximum collection time;
  • The management of anomalies: sanctions for the Collective Systems and penalties for the members of the Collection Centers;
  • The procedure for the collection and the handling of WEEE;
  • The administrative procedures – documentation.

The agreement defines roles and responsibilities of:

  • EEE producers
  • PROs
  • WEEE Clearing House
  • Municipalities
  • Managers of public collection services
  • Consumers
  • Distributors

Producers must attain the minimum recovery and recycling objectives indicated in appendix V of Legislative Decree number 49 of March 14th, 2014 and meet their obligations through individual or collective management systems operating uniformly throughout the entire national territory, ensuring the removal of WEEE deposited at community waste collection centers through agreements, in the case of individual systems, or in the case of collective systems, by using the WEEE Clearing House.

PROs (or Collective Systems) are the entities – for example associations or non-profit organizations – established and financed by producers of e-waste to collectively fulfill their obligations as they are set out by Legal Decree n.49. Currently, there are 17 such CSs active in Italy in the household WEEE sector. Some of these are specialized in individual waste groups and others manage several categories of product: these are the multi-industrial collective systems.

The Collective Systems guarantee that they will collect the WEEE free of charge, even if the units are cannibalized of damaged. In fact, they are under no circumstance allowed to collect payment by subscribers for the service. The Collective systems will only be able to refuse collection if, at the time of collection at the Collection Centre, the WEEE are mixed with different kinds of waste or contaminated, or if they are not appropriately separated in the pre-determined groupings.

The Collective Systems will provide the collection points with the different kinds of containers for the separate containment of the different types of WEEE, free of charge. For example, hook lift / pallet for fridges, washing machines, etc.; baskets for TVs, monitors; hook lift / baskets for computers, mobile phones, solar panels, etc.

For each kind of container the Collective Systems will make sure to display the tare and the volume, with a view to improving the weight verification process. The collective Systems will agree upon which containers guarantee optimal management along with the subscribers to the service.

In order to provide an adequate service, the Collective Systems must respect the maximum collection times. The maximum collection time refers to the amount of time that can pass between the Collection Request, and the time of collection by the Collective Systems. It is defined based on the relation between the kind of WEEE and the total amount of WEEE collected by the collection centre, and it is updated every six months, based on the collection flow.

The WEEE Clearing House (WEEE CH), which is composed of Collective Systems, is the Consortium that optimizes the collection, removal and management of WEEE in a homogenous fashion throughout the whole national territory by assigning the treatment plants to the Collective Systems.

In particular, the WEEE CH guaranties the removal of WEEE gathered at community Collection Centers in accordance with the principles of competition and non-discrimination in order to increase the collection of WEEE by the municipalities and follow the objectives for separate waste collection and recycling.

Municipalities ensure the functionality and suitability of their household WEEE collection systems, as well as the accessibility of related collection centers, in proportion to their population density. This is in order to allow EEE end users, distributors, installers, and technical support center managers to deposit, free of charge, the WEEE produced within the municipality’s territories or held at collection sites organized by distributors. The depositing of waste produced in other municipalities is only permitted upon signature of the appropriate agreement with the destination municipality.

Managers of public collection services must fulfill their obligation to inform consumers by communicating the following:

  • The measures adopted by the Public Administration to promote WEEE separated waste collection and to facilitate reuse, processing and recycling.
  • The role the consumer can play in ensuring the success of the scheme and his contribution to protecting the environment.

The consumer is asked to drop off the WEEE at their community collection centers or alternatively to bring them to the vendor upon purchase of a new product – “one to one”- or irrespective of a purchase in the case of very small WEEE – “one to zero” – and to take care to drop off the discarded item, whenever possible, in such a condition as to allow it to be prepared for reuse.

All distributors are urged to contribute to the achievement of the separate waste collection objectives for electronic and electrical waste in accordance with the time intervals set forth in article 14 of Legal Decree n.49; to that end, the distributors are required to guarantee the use of the “one to one” or, if conditions allow, “one to zero” model of removal of WEEE from private households.

The WEEE collection network in Italy

Collection Centers: represent the majority of WEEE drop off facilities. Created and managed by the municipalities and by businesses, they are open to all residents who may drop off household WEEE at no charge. Collection centers may accept WEEE, which comes from other municipalities and from retailers.

Opening hours of the Collection Centres have an extremely large impact on the quality of the service provided, and on the management over all. It was agreed that the optimal opening hours would consist of six hours a day, for five days a week.

Collection Sites: signifies the place in which distributors collect WEEE dropped off by consumers. Such Collection Sites may be at the distributors’ own point of sale or at another location.

Major users: public or private entities (airports, businesses, hospitals, barracks, etc.) that produce a significant amount of WEEE and as a result are eligible for an onsite removal by the Collective Systems.

Private Collection Centers: collection centers created mainly by those same Collective Systems, in which waste coming from voluntary collection enterprises is stored. These are primarily tied to lighting equipment.

Installers: collection sites managed by Installers of lighting equipment in which waste coming from private homes is stored following the installation of new lamps or light bulbs. These centers are served directly by the Collective Systems.

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