WEEE is classified as the following: Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment. It includes televisions, computers and laptops alongside goods like kettles, irons, fridges and washing machines. The Environment Agency states that WEEE is currently one of the fastest growing areas of waste in Europe. It is estimated that households in the UK throw away around 1 million tonnes of WEEE every year..... Think back to what you have thrown away and how much you have contributed to this figure..... Could you have recycled any of it through a registered centre instead?
The UK is one of the leading figures in the recycling of large appliance WEEE whilst some countries are not recycling hardly any WEEE waste at all and as a result it will end up in landfill. This is a major waste of resources that in many cases can be reused and recycled. It also puts strain on the environment to a very large degree.
Regulations with regards to WEEE are an area of great change. From the 1st July 2007 electrical retailers are legally bound to provide information to their customers in relation to WEEE to help increase awareness with the resulting hope for a push towards Recycling, Repair & Reuse. Retailers also must either offer in-store take back scheme where customers that by a new product from them can return the old one to the store. It is then the responsibility of the store to ensure that this waste item is recycled properly.
The other option is for stores to be part of a Distributor Take-back scheme, whereby retailers will advise you as the customer where to take your WEEE. This means that the store will be financially contributing to a facility to handle this waste. It however reduces the strain on the store to handle the waste products direct.
Many of these WEEE products contain hazardous and dangerous chemicals and so have to be handled and treated with care. An example of this is the LCD tubes used in LCD TVs and monitors. These fine glass tubes which are a much smaller version of the ones fluorescent tubes used in strip lights are very fine and very fragile. They are millimetres thick and break very easily. These contain Mercury. Capacitors found on circuit boards can contain heavy metals like Cadmium. These chemicals are a hazard to both the environment and health. This is where WEEE policies really come into play. The rules and regulations regarding the handling, care and disposal of WEEE are there to protect everyone and the environment we live in.
From July 2007 items that are classed as WEEE all carry the crossed out wheelie bin symbol. From 1st April 2007 government regulation states that all new electrical products brought onto the UK market must carry this symbol.
The regulations make businesses, manufacturers and retailers of electrical goods responsible for the goods that they sell. It is up to everyone including consumers to make sure that these goods do not end up in landfill sites or incineration plants where the toxic chemicals, metals, solders, glues and plastics can cause harm to the environment and health. Everyone should do their bit to help tackle the WEEE issue.
What is WEEE?
The following types of electrical and electronic equipment are covered by WEEE Regulations. They are products that need electricity to function in their main capacity. This means that a gas cooker that has an electric clock would NOT be WEEE waste when it is at the end of its life span because its main function i.e. cooking does NOT require electricity.
There are 10 main WEEE categories.
- Large household appliances e.g. washing machines
- Small Household appliances e.g. vacuum cleaners
- IT and telecommunications equipment e.g. laptops and mobile phones
- Consumer equipment e.g. radios and televisions
- Lighting equipment (not including filament light bulbs)
- Electrical and electronic tools e.g. electrical drills
- Toys, leisure and sports equipment e.g. games consoles
- Medical devices
- Monitoring and control instruments
- Automatic dispensers
If you have any further questions with regards to WEEE please do not hesitate to contact us.