In Summer 2000, the EU commission approved drafts of the guidelines for waste electrical
and electronic equipment (WEEE)  and the guidelines for the restriction of the
use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS)
. These were subsequently presented to the European Parliament and the Member
States for discussion and decision-making. Meantime, the German Mediation Committee
between the Houses of Parliament accepted the papers. On 13 February 2003, the WEEE
and RoHS guidelines were ratified, and finally in January 2005, they have been adapted
into the national legislature.
The guidelines establish that consumers can return waste electrical
and electronic equipment to the manufacturers free of charge. Manufacturers and
importers will, at the end of a transition period, finance the treatment, reuse
and environmentally safe disposal of waste equipment. For waste equipment already
purchased before adoption of the guidelines, all manufacturers will share
responsibility. Bilateral agreements can be made for capital goods.
The minimum weight for collection is four kilograms per inhabitant
per year. For reuse and recycling the minimum weight applies. This regulation applies
to electrical household equipment, electrical tools, consumer electronics, IT and
telecommunication equipment, lamps and lights, toys, medical equipment, monitoring
and control instruments as well as slot or vending machines. As of July 2006, lead,
mercury, cadmium, chromium (VI), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated
diphenyl ethers (PBDE) are prohibited. Exceptions are provided for certain applications.