Each year in the UK, businesses throw away one million tonnes of Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)*.
SMEs generate 60% of all commercial waste in England and Wales, so it’s critical that all users of electrical equipment understand what WEEE means for them – and it’s worrying that only 1 in 8 SMEs are aware of the legislation unprompted.
There’s no doubt that WEEE is a widespread issue. In fact, Britain is the fifth highest producer of WEEE per head.
Many sectors believe that WEEE is only relevant to businesses in the electrical sector – this is untrue. In fact, if you use computers, a photocopier, or even equipment in your staff kitchen, you need to be aware of what WEEE is and how to manage it responsibly.
What is WEEE?
The WEEE Regulations came into force on 2 January 2007 and includes most products that have a plug or need a battery, such as cookers, radios, TVs, electric drills, smoke detectors etc.
The European WEEE Directive applies the principle of producer responsibility. This concept ensures that manufacturers and importers of products bear a degree of responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products throughout the products’ life-cycles.
Under the WEEE Regulations a producer is any company who places Electric and Electronic Equipment (EEE) onto the UK market by importing, re-branding or manufacturing own brand products.
There are a number of obligations placed on producers. These include; registration with a ‘Producer Compliance Scheme’, ensuring that all new EEE is marked with the necessary symbols, providing information on reuse and treatment as well as environmentally sound disposal of WEEE.
The challenges …
WEEE can be a waste stream difficult to manage. This is largely due to many electrical items containing a mix of materials. For example, a TV can contain 6% metal and 50% glass. Plastics, precious metals and ceramics are also found in different types of items.
Recycling can also pose serious health risks, because some dangerous substances (such as mercury in fluorescent tubes) can be released during product processing. This means not all WEEE products can be recycled in the same way.
Overall, we can help reduce the amount of WEEE that goes to landfill and ensure we are compliant and on the right side of the law. For further information, please see link here