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Different ways and methodologies have been developed in order to classify waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) streams.

Current WEEE Directive Classification

In 2012, the recast EU WEEE Directive (Directive 2012/19/EU) defined a new WEEE categorisation scheme (Annex III). This scheme consists of 6 categories, that differ in the type of treatment steps that need to be performed when recycling the equipment. These categories are in use since August 15th, 2018.

  1. Temperature Exchange Equipment
  2. Screens and Monitors
  3. Lamps
  4. Large Equipment
  5. Small Equipment
  6. Small IT and Telecommunication Equipment

Obsolete WEEE Directive Classification

Until August 14th 2018, the EU WEEE Directive applied ten categories, as identified in the original 2002 EU Directive (Directive 2002/96/EC). These ten categories have been the basis of several other classification schemes like the UNU Keys.

  1. Large household appliances
  2. Small household appliances
  3. IT and telecommunications equipment
  4. Consumer equipment
  5. Lighting equipment
  6. Electrical and electronic tools
  7. Toys, leisure and sports equipment
  8. Medical devices
  9. Monitoring and control instruments
  10. Automatic dispenser


In addition to the established WEEE Categories the United Nations University (UNU) developed a further classification which comprises of 54 categories. These categories correlate to the original 10 EU WEEE Categories (the first two digits of the UNU-keys), but are further divided into superficial categories. The UNU-keys are chosen in such a way that each key describes a single product or a small range of products that have a uniform average weight, environmental relevancy and market behaviour.

Linking the WEEE Classification Systems

The above described WEEE Classification Systems can be easily linked as shown in the below table.

UNU KeyWEEE Cat. (obsolete)WEEE Cat. (current)UNU Key Description
010114Professional Heating & Ventilation (excl. cooling equipment)
010314Kitchen (f.i. large furnaces, ovens, cooking equipment)
010414Washing Machines (incl. combined dryers)
010514Dryers (wash dryers, centrifuges)
010614Household Heating & Ventilation (f.i. hoods, ventilators, space heaters)
010811Fridges (incl. combi-fridges)
011111Air Conditioners (household installed and portable)
011211Other Cooling (f.i. dehumidifiers, heat pump dryers)
011311Professional Cooling (f.i. large airconditioners, cooling displays)
011415Microwaves (incl. combined, excl. grills)
020125Other Small Household (f.i. small ventilators, irons, clocks, adapters)
020225Food (f.i. toaster, grills, food processing, frying pans)
020325Hot Water (f.i. coffee, tea, water cookers)
020425Vacuum Cleaners (excl. professional)
020525Personal Care (f.i. tooth brushes, hair dryers, razors)
030136Small IT (f.i. routers, mice, keyboards, external drives & accessoires)
030236Desktop PCs (excl. monitors, accessoires)
030332Laptops (incl. tablets)
030436Printers (f.i. scanners, multifunctionals, faxes)
030536Telecom (f.i. (cordless) phones, answering machines)
030636Mobile Phones (incl. smartphones, pagers)
030734Professional IT (f.i. servers, routers, data storage, copiers)
030832Cathode Ray Tube Monitors
030932Flat Display Panel Monitors (LCD, LED)
040145Small Consumer Electronics (f.i. headphones, remote controls)
040245Portable Audio & Video (f.i. MP3, e-readers, car navigation)
040345Music Instruments, Radio, HiFi (incl. audio sets)
040445Video (f.i. Video recorders, DVD, Blue Ray, set-top boxes)
040645Cameras (f.i. camcorders, foto & digital still cameras)
040742Cathode Ray Tube TVs
040842Flat Panel Display TVs (LCD, LED, PDP)
050155Lamps (f.i. pocket, christmas, excl. LED & incandescent)
050253Compact fluorescent lamps
050353Straight tube fluorescent lamps
050453Special (Hg, high & low pres. Na, other prof. lamps
050655Luminairs (incl. HH incandescent fittings)
060165Tools (all HH saws, drills, cleaning, garden, etc.)
060264Tools (Professional tools, excl. dual use)
070175Toys (small toys, vehicles, small music)
070276Game Consoles (video games and consoles)
070374Toys and sund beds (exercising, large music instr.)
080185Medical (small HH thermometers, blood pressure meters)
080284Medical (hospital, dentist, diagnostics, etc.)
090195Monitoring (alarm, heat, smoke, security, excluding screens)
090294Monitoring (Prof. M&C, garage, diagnostic, etc.)
1001104Dispenser (non-cooled vending, coffee, tickets, etc.)
1002101Dispenser (cooled vending, bottles, candy, etc.)

Source: European Commission: manual for the use of the WEEE calculation tool

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