At the European level, waste generated from EEE is regulated by the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive (2002/96/EC). The directive can be accessed here: http://www.legaltext.ee/et/andmebaas/….

The WEEE Directive has been amended by Directive 2003/108/108 (of 8 December 2003) and the deadlines for the implementation of the directive have been extended by Council Decision 2004/312/EC (of 30 March 2004).

In the enforcement of the WEEE Directive, Member States have adopted the approach that general principles are laid down in national waste legislation and specific provisions are enforced by regulations established at the level of national government and/or ministries. Estonia has followed the same scheme, and EEE-related matters are regulated by the following legislation in Estonia:

  • Waste Act
  • Regulation No. 376 of the Government of the Republic of 24 December 2004
  • Regulation No. 9 of the Minister of the Environment of 9 February 2005
  • Regulation No. 28 of the Government of the Republic of 30 January 2006
  • Regulation No. 154 of the Government of the Republic of 6 July 2006

Waste Act

Waste Act: https://www.riigiteataja.ee/ert/act.jsp?id=12894710. Importers and resellers of electrical and electronic equipment are advised to familiarise themselves with sections 23 to 27 of the Waste Act. The Waste Act establishes the principle of producer responsibility for products of concern, which means that certain products placed on the market must later be taken back free of charge by the producer and treated properly.

A product of concern is a product whose waste presents or may present a health or environmental hazard, environmental disturbance, or excessive environmental pollution. Products of concern include: batteries and accumulators; equipment containing PCBs; motor vehicles and their parts; electrical and electronic equipment and their components.

Within the meaning of the Waste Act, ‘electrical and electronic equipment’ refers to equipment that requires an electric current or electromagnetic field to operate, and in which the device that generates, directs, and measures this current or field and is intended for use at a voltage not exceeding 1,000 V in the case of alternating current and not exceeding 1,500 V in the case of direct current.

Within the meaning of the Waste Act, ‘producer’ refers to a person who:

  • manufactures and sells products under their own trademark or trade name, regardless of the method of sale, including mail-order and electronic sales;
  • resells products manufactured by others, regardless of the method of sale, including mail-order and electronic sales;
  • imports products to Estonia for the purpose of their distribution or resale.

Regulation No. 376 of the Government of the Republic broadens the definition of ‘producer’ with regard to electrical and electronic equipment. Within the meaning of this regulation, a producer is a person who, regardless of the method of sale, including sales by means of telecommunication equipment:

  • manufactures and sells electrical and electronic equipment under their own trademark,
  • resells equipment manufactured by other suppliers under their own trademark,
  • imports or exports electrical and electronic equipment to or from Estonia for commercial purposes.

Obligations imposed on producers by the Waste Act:

  • Producers are obliged to ensure the collection and recovery or disposal of the waste generated from products of concern they have produced, resold, or imported, as well as to have sufficient guarantees to fulfil this obligation. The obligations also apply to waste generated from products of concern before the entry into force of these obligations (historical waste).
  • Producers are required to register in the National Register of Products of Concern and submit data to the register.

Producers may choose to fulfil their obligations independently, to transfer them to a producer association under a written contract, or to join a producer association.

Within the meaning of the Waste Act, producer association refers to a non-profit association or other non-profit-seeking organisation whose members are only producers or producer associations, and one of the purposes of which is to manage or finance the collection and recovery of waste generated from certain types of products of concern. Producer associations must ensure:

  1. access to the services of the producer association for all producers of the relevant type of products of concern;
  2. the collection of charges on an equal footing from and the provision of services to the producers who have transferred their obligations under a contract or joined the producer association, solely based on their share in the market of the relevant type of equipment;
  3. the purchase of waste treatment services on the basis of competition;
  4. the availability of data related to the collection and recovery of waste to the Ministry of the Environment and persons authorised to carry out supervision.
  5. A producer who has transferred their obligations under the Waste Act to a producer association under a written contract and who has fulfilled their obligations to the producer association will not be responsible for meeting the targets for collection and recovery of waste generated from products of concern and for transmitting data to the National Register of Products of Concern.

Requirements and procedures for the collection, recovery, or disposal of WEEE. Targets and deadlines for meeting the targets

Regulation No. 376 of the Government of the Republic of 24 December 2004 establishing the method and procedure for labelling electronic equipment and the requirements and procedure for the collection, return to the producer, and recovery or disposal of waste generated from electronic equipment, and the targets and deadlines for achievement thereof: https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/108042014005
 
A regulation of the Government of the Republic establishes the method and procedure for labelling electrical and electronic equipment and the requirements and procedure for the collection, return to the producer, and recovery or disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment, as well as targets and the deadlines for achieving the targets.
 
The regulation stipulates that holders of waste must collect waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) separately from other waste.

The regulation also stipulates that distributors of EEE intended for domestic use are obliged to accept from holders of waste, free of charge, WEEE on a one-to-one basis as long as the equipment is of equivalent type and has fulfilled the same functions as equipment placed on the market by the distributor. If there is no collection point for WEEE within a 10-km radius of a distributor, the distributor must accept from natural persons, free of charge, WEEE on a one-to-one basis as long as the equipment is of equivalent type and has fulfilled the same functions as equipment placed on the market by the distributor, regardless of whether the natural person has purchased or will be purchasing similar equipment from the distributor.

Annex 1 of the regulation lists the categories and subcategories of EEE.

The obligation to meet the recovery targets set out in the regulation entered into force on 31 December 2008. This date is two years later than in the 15 most highly developed countries, because at the request of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Czechia, and Slovakia, the European Council adopted a decision (2004/312/EC) to extend the implementation deadlines for these countries. The text of the decision can be found here: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32004D0312:EN:HTML 
Unlike several other European countries, Estonia has not deemed it necessary to stipulate in national legislation the requirement to collect 4 kg of WEEE per capita per year. Under the WEEE Directive and European Council Decision 2004/312/EC, producers operating in Estonia have a joint obligation to collect 4 kg of WEEE per capita per year. The target of 4 kg per capita had to be reached by the end of 2008.

Requirements for the treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment

Regulation No. 9 of the Minister of the Environment of 9 February 2005 establishing the requirements for the treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment https://www.riigiteataja.ee/ert/act.jsp?id=850797 
The regulation lays down requirements for WEEE collection and treatment facilities, as well as a list of substances, preparations, and components that must be separated from WEEE during treatment and collected separately.

Statutes of the National Register of Products of Concern

Regulation No. 28 of the Government of the Republic of 30 January 2006 establishing the National Register of Products of Concern and laying down the statutes for the management of the register https://www.riigiteataja.ee/ert/act.jsp?id=988587 

This regulation is the base document establishing the National Register of Products of Concern (PROTO) and regulating its daily operation. The purpose of the register is to keep records of producers of products of concern placed on the market in Estonia and imported into Estonia, as well as records of products of concern, the recovery and disposal of waste generated from this, and the recovery and disposal of waste exported from Estonia. The data controller of the established register is the Ministry of the Environment and the data processor is the Information Technology Centre of the Ministry of the Environment.

Persons who import or manufacture products of concern (i.e. producers within the meaning of section 23 of the Waste Act) are required to submit the data provided for in the regulation to PROTO. The quantities of products of concern reported to the register by a producer indicate the extent of the liability and obligations of that producer. Producers may report data to the register independently or via the respective producer association.

Eesti Elektroonikaromu is a producer association (ID = 10175) registered with PROTO which represents its member producers in their relations with the National Register of Products of Concern and manages the submission of all data required from the producers that have joined the association.

List of hazardous substances prohibited in products of concern, prohibitions and restrictions imposed on products of concern

Regulation No. 154 of the Government of the Republic of 6 July 2006 establishing a detailed list of hazardous substances prohibited in products of concern and imposing prohibitions and restrictions on products of concern:
https://www.riigiteataja.ee/ert/act.jsp?id=12846670 

The regulation establishes a detailed list of hazardous substances prohibited in products of concern, as well as limit values for certain hazardous substances contained in products of concern, below which the prohibition on placing the product of concern on the market does not apply.

The prohibition on placing products of concern on the market applies to electrical and electronic equipment and their components containing:
    1) more than 0.1% by weight of mercury or its compounds;
    2) more than 0.01% by weight of cadmium or its compounds;
    3) more than 0.1% by weight of lead or its compounds;
    4) more than 0.1% by weight of compounds of hexavalent chromium;
    5) more than 0.1% by weight of polybrominated biphenyls (PBB);
    6) more than 0.1% by weight of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).

The prohibition does not apply to EEE categorised as medical equipment or monitoring and surveillance equipment. Exemptions are also made for a number of other categories of EEE materials and components. All 32 exemptions are listed in the regulation.