Waste electrical and electronic equipment

Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

Most electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) contains hazardous substances in varying amounts. Therefore, it is important that waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is collected and treated properly.

WEEE may be delivered free of charge

According to the regulations, 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.

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.

Importers and producers have set up take-back companies to manage WEEE in accordance with the regulations. In addition, an agreement has been concluded between the importers and producers and the Ministry of the Environment under which the importers and producers undertake to ensure that at least 80 per cent of WEEE is collected. They shall also take steps to reduce the waste problems associated with WEEE.
As a result of the agreement take-back companies were set up to deal with non-consumer WEEE and with electronic equipment and household appliances, respectively. Some take-back companies have been established independently of the agreement with the authorities. 

Take-back companies are required to have approval from the Climate and Pollution Agency. Approval is to be based on the certification scheme described in an appendix to Chapter 1 of the Waste Regulations. Every importer and producer of EEE is required to be a member of an approved take-back company.

Collection rate rising

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 waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) was collected in Norway in 2012. This is about 29.5 kg per capita.

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Treatment of WEEE

After collection, waste equipment is dismantled manually at special facilities. Components that contain hazardous substances are treated as hazardous waste, but as much as possible is recovered. In all, about 95 per cent of the WEEE collected is re-used, recycled or processed for energy recovery. The remaining 5 per cent is landfilled or incincerated without energy recovery.

Producer register (The WEEE Register)

The WEEE Register is a register of producers of all types of EEE, and was established on 1 July 2006. The register is to:

  • 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 a new WEEE directive. Chapter 1 of Norway’s Waste Regulations incorporates its provisions. In 2012, the EU adopted a revised directive.