Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Distributors of electrical and electronic equipment – What you must do

Distributors of electrical and electronic equipment – What you must do

If you sell electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) to household users you must enable these customers to return waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) products on a like for like basis, when they purchase a new product. This is known as ' retailer take back'.

You must also provide customers with information on how they can return waste products, and keep records.

As a distributor you do not have to provide free take back for customers who are businesses, but you may be asked to help business customers and suppliers to meet their obligations.

Provide a take-back system for household WEEE

You must provide a system that enables household customers to dispose of their WEEE free of charge. You can:

  • offer in-store take back
  • join the distributor take-back scheme
  • provide an alternative free take-back service.

You can offer free in-store take back of old equipment when consumers buy a similar item. You should accept goods within a reasonable period, eg within 28 days of the new item being purchased. You can dispose of the WEEE you collect via a producer compliance scheme, which must accept it free of charge. However, they may charge you a collection fee.

You should approach the compliance scheme that collects WEEE from your nearest local authority civic amenity site to arrange for the proper treatment and recycling of the WEEE you receive. You can find a list of local authorities and their appointed compliance schemes on the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) website.

GOV.UK: Local authorities' producer compliance schemes

If you join the nationwide distributor take-back scheme you do not need to offer in-store take back. Membership fees are used to provide funding for local authorities operating designated collection facilities for WEEE at civic amenity sites. You can read about the distributor take-back scheme on the Valpak website

Valpak: Distributor take-back scheme

If you choose not to offer in-store take back and do not join the distributor take-back scheme, you must provide an alternative take-back service. The service must be free and easily accessible to your customers.

Whichever method you use you must store WEEE safely and securely to prevent pollution. You must also comply with the normal waste controls when transporting WEEE.

Duty of care – your waste responsibilities

Offer a collection on delivery scheme

You may offer a 'collection on delivery' scheme as a service to your customers, for example collecting old bulky goods when delivering new replacement goods. You can charge household customers for collection, but this must only cover the cost of transport and handling, it must not include any treatment or reprocessing costs. You must still provide either in-store take back, an alternative free service or join the take-back scheme.

Provide WEEE information to your customers

You must provide your household customers with written information on:

  • environmental impacts of the substances in new EEE and WEEE
  • reasons for separating WEEE from other waste
  • the meaning of the crossed-out wheeled bin symbol
  • how they can safely dispose of WEEE for proper treatment and recycling free of charge.

You must also display information for customers on the benefits of take-back schemes. This could be posters, leaflets or on a website.

You must keep records of the information you provide, any household WEEE that has been collected and the information provided to customers for at least four years.

Enforcement of WEEE distributor obligations

The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) enforces the distributor obligations and provides advice on compliance.

VCA: Retailer and distributor obligations

Comply with other requirements

New equipment must also comply with restrictions on the use of certain hazardous substances (ROHS) and may have to meet energy labelling or ecodesign requirements.


Energy labelling and eco-design

If you are affected by WEEE regulations, you may also have obligations under the Batteries Directive.

Batteries regulations

Further information

GOV.UK: Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) producer responsibilities

Return to WEEE landing page

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