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Shipments of Electronic Waste: Providing the Right Incentives through Regulation and Enforcement



The article deals with the interaction of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive and the Waste Shipment Regulation, insofar as they both regulate shipments of waste electrical and electronic equipment. While the number of such shipments is increasing rapidly, there is widespread uncertainty among companies and enforcement authorities concerning the interpretation of some of the relevant provisions. In particular, the borderline issues linked to the definition of ‘waste’ and the distinction between ‘waste’ and ‘product’ seem to cause difficulties that could be exploited by companies disguising their waste as ‘products’ to circumvent EU rules on waste management. Furthermore, the correct classification of waste is not always obvious, which provides for uncertainty as far as the applicable control procedure is concerned. This article analyses the regulatory and non-regulatory steps taken at both European and national levels towards more clarity. It concludes by calling for more coordination at European level in relation to enforcement activities. Furthermore, companies must take a more proactive stance when designing their take-back and waste management plans.