Waste electrical and electronic equipment

Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency Lag rapport Les på norsk

In Norway, 85 per cent of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is recovered and used to develop new products instead of using new raw materials. Most electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) contains hazardous substances in varying amounts.  

The amount of WEEE increases rapidly

In Norway, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is one of the fastest growing waste streams. High standard of living, rapid technological development and shorter lifespans of electrical and electronic equipment are the main reasons. In the EU, it is expected that there will be more than 12 million tonnes of WEEE by 2020, and we can assume that Norway will experience the same development as the EU.

From 1999 when the take-back system started, the collection rate of WEEE has risen, as you can see in the figure below. Almost 144 000 tonnes of WEEE was collected in Norway in 2017. This is about 27.1 kg per person.

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In 2017, almost 85 per cent of the WEEE collected was recovered, and a little less than 8 per cent was processed for energy recovery.

WEEE delivered free of charge

In Norway, WEEE may be delivered free of charge to municipal waste treatment facilities or to distributors who sell similar products. Distributors are required to take back WEEE and to inform consumers that they do so.

The costs of waste collection and treatment are covered by the importers and producers of EEE. Importers and producers have set up take-back companies to manage WEEE, both from households and from businesses.

Treatment in approved plants to avoid spreading of pollutants

Most of the WEEE contains hazardous substances. After collection, WEEE is therefore dismantled at special facilities. Components that contain hazardous substances are treated as hazardous waste, while the rest is largely recovered.

Producer responsibility

Proper management of WEEE is a producer responsibility, in other words the responsibility of businesses that manufacture electrical and electronic equipment or import it to Norway. Chapter 1 of the Waste Regulations, which deals with WEEE, describes how producers are to fulfil this responsibility. Every importer and producer of EEE is required to be a member of an approved take-back company.

Today's arrangement is based on an agreement between the Ministry of Climate and Environment and importers and producers, under which the importers and producers undertake to ensure that WEEE is collected, as well as the requirements in Norway's Waste Regulations.

Take-back companies are required to have approval from the Norwegian Environment Agency. Approval is to be based on the certification scheme described in an appendix to Chapter 1 of Norway's Waste Regulations.

Today, three take-back companies have approval, and take care of all WEEE in Norway:

The WEEE Register

The WEEE Register is a register of producers of all types of EEE. The register shall:

  • contain information on EEE producers and importers  
  • make it possible to identify any companies that are operating as free riders, i.e. not meeting their obligations under the Norwegian regulations
  • provide information on the legislation and what producers and importers must do to comply with the rules
  • collect and collate data from the take-back companies on the take-back of WEEE

EU rules incorporated into Norwegian legislation

In 2002, the EU adopted the WEEE directive. The directive introduced producer responsibility for EE products throughout the EU, similar to the regulations that were introduced in Norway in 1999. It also sets targets for collection and recovery of WEE. Chapter 1 of Norway’s Waste Regulations incorporates its provisions.