Changes to retailer take-back obligations for WEEE from 2021

There are upcoming significant changes to retailer responsibilities for WEEE producer take-back that will come in from 1 January 2021. Retailers distributing Electrical and Electronic Equipment will be required to offer in-store take back of items equivalent to those sold to consumers in-store

The aim here is to ensure that consumers have an easily accessible method of disposing of waste electrical and electronic equipment when purchasing new products.

Previously, a central scheme - the Distributor Takeback Scheme (DTS) - assisted retailers to meet their obligations in this area, however from 1 January 2021, the DTS will no longer be operational in the UK. At this point, retailers and distributors will need to take collection and take-back responsibilities into their own hands.

There are two types of take-back requirements that are relevant; “1-1, like for like take-back” and “1-0, general take-back”.

“1-1, like for like take-back” – All retailers

Retailers must allow consumers to return items equivalent in type to those they purchase from the retailer. This accounts for both items bought in-store and those provided via online / mail order service. In-store services must be free of charge but costs of transport can be applied for items collected at point of home delivery.

Brand and cost are not considered relevant factors here, but function and usage are; for example, if a customer purchases a brand new, top of the range hi-fi to replace an outdated, budget sound system, the retailer must still accept the exchange item.

The 1-1 take-back service must be offered for ALL types of product the retailer sells and a 28 day period from point of purchase needs to be offered to the consumer during which they can return an equivalent waste item.

“1-0, general take-back” – Retailers with >400 square metres of floor space

Retailers with greater than 400 square metres of floor space will be required to accept all items of “very small WEEE” regardless of whether customers are replacing the item by buying new products or not. Very small WEEE is defined as items with dimensions no greater than 25cm on any side / edge.

For example, a retailer would be required to accept calculators, mobile phones, small lamps etc from any consumer visiting the store (even if they don’t purchase anything).

What is changing?

Previously, it was possible for retailers to join the Distributor Take-back Scheme (DTS) to alleviate their obligations for takeback. From 1 January 2021, the DTS will not be accepting members outside of online only retailers and those with EEE sales of less than £100,000. All other businesses with distributor obligations will need to make their own arrangements. Please download our WEEE distributor take-back decision tree HERE to help identify if this change impacts your business.


We recently hosted a live webinar covering these changes in more detail, so to request a copy of the slides and recording of the broadcast, please email

For any further queries about the impact of these take-back responsibility changes on your business, please contact our WEEE team on / 01756 794 951 or, contact your account manager directly if a member of our WEEE scheme.