WEEE – Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, E-Waste
Directive 2002/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the council on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)
1st July 2007. Enacted into UK law in the form of the WEEE Licensing Regulations, December 2006 (SI 2006 No. 3289)
The primary aim of the Directive is to reduce the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment created and to stimulate people to re-use, recycle and recover as much as possible, reducing the amount disposed of to landfill or incineration.
Any organisation that makes use of WEEE in the normal course of its operations and has cause to dispose of it when surplus to requirements will be required to comply with the directive. This includes businesses, schools, hospitals, and government agencies. These organisations need to ensure that all separately collected WEEE is treated and recycled.
‘Producers’ of electrical appliances – whether manufacturers, importers or re-branders - are responsible for signing up to ‘Producer Compliance Schemes’ for the collection and recycling of waste electronics from both businesses and consumers. There are quite a number of compliance schemes to choose from and each manufacturer will make their own choice.
Whether the business or the producer of the (EEE) pays for this depends on the circumstances – please use the link below for more information on this aspect of the regulations.
For many organisations however, the simplest option will be to consult your existing waste management contractor and seek their recommendations. NB – as the waste producer it is your responsibility to satisfy yourself that your contractor has disposed of your waste in a compliant manner and, if necessary, to produce supporting documentation to the Environment Agency. An acceptable document would be a suitably-completed Waste Transfer Note.
The EU WEEE Directive was created to counter the environmental and health impacts of e-waste, through reuse and recycling. This is because e-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in the EU, predicted to grow to 12 million tonnes per year by 2020. 67% of e-waste collected in the EU is unaccounted for, either landfilled, sent to sub standard treatment facilities or illegally exported.
Under the WEEE Regulations brought in on July 1, 2007, producers of electrical appliances - both manufacturers and importers - are responsible for collecting and recycling waste electronics from both consumers and businesses. The primary objective is to reduce the amount of WEEE that goes into disposal with municipal waste and ending up in landfill.
To achieve this, improvement in the environmental performance of all operators involved in the life cycle of electrical and electronic equipment is needed. This includes the producers, distributors and consumers and in particular those operators directly involved in the treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment.
The design and production of e-goods need to take into account and make provision for their subsequent dismantling and recovery, in particular for re-use and recycling.
Producers should not prevent, through specific design features or manufacturing processes, WEEE from being reused, unless such specific design features or manufacturing processes present overriding advantages, for example with regard to the protection of the environment and/or safety requirements.
Separate collection is available to ensure specific treatment and recycling of WEEE. It is crucial in order to avoid the dispersion of pollutants into the recycled material or the waste stream. Best available treatment, recovery and recycling techniques should be used provided that they ensure human health and high environmental protection.
In order to give maximum effect to the concept of producer responsibility, each producer should be responsible for financing the management of the waste from his own products.
The Environment Agency web site contains more detailed information regarding the WEEE Directive, your responsibilities as a waste producer and whether or not you are liable for the cost of your WEEE disposal.