Just two EU countries comply in time with WEEE PV deadline

Last Friday saw the 18-month deadline for compliance with the latest WEEE directive on the disposal of solar PV modules pass, with only the governments of the U.K. and Bulgaria officially transposing the new text into their national law.

The amended directive was first introduced in August 2012, expanded to include for the first time guidelines on the proper waste management of solar PV modules. The solar PV industry and national governments were given an 18-month transition period in which to make the requisite changes to their standard removal and disposal practices, and the laws governing them.

That period came to an end on February 14, and although the governments in key PV markets across the EU have yet to officially implement their own national versions of the European directive, WEEE will remain relevant to the PV sector throughout 2014 and beyond, according to PV Cycle – a pan-European PV recycling and take-back organization.

"Under WEEE, PV companies in the European Union will not only have to ensure the collection and recycling of their discarded end-of-life products, but are required to also guarantee the financial future of PV waste management," said PV Cycle’s managing director, Jan Clyncke.

Writing for pv magazine last week, Clyncke warned that a number of EU countries may not meet the deadline and will require another few months in order to "get up to speed" with the new regulations.

Although Bulgaria and the U.K. are the only two nations to transcribe the changes into national law thus far, other countries have revealed draft proposals and are well on the way towards compliance. "In France for example, the transposition of the WEEE directive is expected to be finalized by mid-2014 , and PV companies need to register with an accredited scheme," Clyncke wrote.

"Germany and Italy, today’s biggest PV markets in Europe, are expected to allow for both industry-managed and individual take-back and recycling schemes, leading into competition among those offering WEEE-compliance services but also a more complex compliance procedure."

The governments of the Czech Republic and Spain are also expected to reveal details of their official WEEE compliance over the coming months. "PV Cycle is ready for the updated national WEEE law of the main European PV markets, irrespective of the timely transposition of the Directive by each Member State," Marguerit Durant, communications coordinator for PV Cycle Europe, told pv magazine.

The European Commission clearly states that any Member State that fails to comply with a directive, and also fails to notify the Commission of any impending measures to implement a directive, may face “an infringement case for non-communication.” In some cases, continued non-compliance can result in a fine for the offending Member States.