WEEE - Help Reduce Electrical Waste
Recycling regulations and how they apply to you
Environmental issues are consistently top of the news agenda along with reminders of how we can all do our bit. However, for those who choose to ignore the damage caused by dumping waste, an increasing numbers of laws are coming into force.
WEEE applies to electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), with a voltage of up to 1000 volts for alternating current, or up to 1500 volts for direct current.
The electrical industry is governed by the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations introduced in January 2007. And not before time, since over 6 million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment are discarded very year within the EU — 1.8 million tonnes of that going to landfill in the UK, where it is reported to be the fastest growing area of waste.
The consequent impact on the environment can be reduced by electrical recycling and recovery of electrical products — and the WEEE Regulations call for producers of own brand products, and manufacturers of branded products to organise and foot the bill for the collection, treatment and recovery of ‘end–of–life’ electrical and electronic equipment waste.
Once such goods are out of the hands of producers, WEEE Regulations require that end users of this waste ensure that any electrical products are separated from general business waste and recycled.
WEEE applies to Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE), with a voltage of up to 1000 volts for alternating current, or up to 1500 volts for direct current.
- Large household appliances
- Small household appliances
- IT and telecommunications equipment
- Consumer equipment
- Lighting equipment
- Electrical and electronic tools
- Toys, leisure and sport equipment
- Medical devices
- Monitoring and control equipment
- Automatic dispensers
WEEE applies to anyone who:
- Manufactures or imports electrical or electronic equipment.
- Distributes electrical or electronic equipment.
- Generates any electrical or electronic waste.
- Collects electrical or electronic waste from their customers for treatment or disposal.
- Operates a waste treatment facility.
Depending upon which category you fall under, compliance with WEEE regulation will differ significantly.Start of page
First and foremost, producers must finance the collection, treatment and environmentally sound management of WEEE, if it entered the marketplace after 13th August 2005. These products are known as “New Domestic WEEE and must feature a crossed out wheelie bin symbol identifying them as ‘Future WEEE’”.
The producer must also finance the collection of old WEEE, i.e. those placed on the market before 13th August 2005, but only if the end user is buying a ‘like for like’ replacement. Therefore it is the supplier of the new product who is required to finance the disposal of the old product when it becomes waste. This is known as ‘historic WEEE’.
End users who have purchased items with the wheelie bin symbol may take their products to their local civic waste site, whilst those who have bought products after 13th August 2005 can also take their product to the distributor of the new product. The distributor can either collect and dispose of the item themselves, or direct the buyer to the waste site.
WEEE requires producers to help finance civic waste sites, by joining a ‘compliance scheme’, submitting sales information, and paying towards the running costs of civic waste sites.
The basis of the regulations is that if householders are able to return end–of–life products free of charge this will reduce the number of people dumping domestic waste.
There are no fixed rules for business waste, the requirement is that a recycling system is in place, whether or not this is passing the obligation on to the end user, or incorporating an agreement into the original sales plan.Start of page
Those buying or using WEEE products must ensure that end–of–life products are disposed of where the product can be recycled professionally.
They can be taken back to the original producer, disposed of via the producer’s compliance scheme, or — where the producer is unknown – the end user must pick up the responsibility and the tab for recycling. If the end user is willing to finance recycling then it is not necessary to follow the producer’s compliance scheme.
By encouraging the separate collection of WEEE and ensuring the treatment, reuse, recovery, recycling and environmentally–friendly disposal of WEEE, those millions of tonnes of electrical waste can be substantially reduced.
If everyone involved in the lifecycle of EEE, from the producer through the end user, is accountable for how their actions impact on the environment, and therefore adheres to the WEEE Regulations — we can all make a difference to, and benefit from, a better environment.
For further information, visit the NetRegs website. NetRegs provides free environmental guidance for small and medium–sized businesses in the UK.Start of page