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WEEE Regulations


The Law Requires Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is dealt with it correctly once you no longer need it. 

 

The ethical reason for the WEEE regulations.

 

Electrical and electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the UK. Around 1.8 million tonnes are generated every year, much of this waste coming from non-household sources such as offices, factories, schools and hospitals.  If treated properly, electronic waste is a valuable source for secondary raw materials. However, if not treated properly, it is a major source of toxins and carcinogens.

 

The WEEE Regulations are an example of legislative policy direction within the EU and UK that is aimed at introducing the principle of producer responsibility in relation to environmental impacts associated with products. A key objective of the WEEE Regulations is to reduce the amount of WEEE that goes to landfills. This is achieved by placing an extended responsibility on producers and distributors of electrical and electronic equipment.

 

What is it?

 

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive came into force in January 2007 and was replaced by the WEEE 2013 Regs (Jan 2014) and further updated by the WEEE (Amedment) Regs 2015. The aims of the legislation is to both reduce the amount of WEEE being produced and encourage everyone to reuse, recycle and recover it. The WEEE Directive also aims to improve the environmental performance of businesses that manufacture, supply, use, recycle and recover electrical and electronic equipment.

 

The regulations aim to:

reduce waste from electrical and electronic equipment.

encourage the separate collection of WEEE.

encourage treatment, reuse, recovery, recycling and sound environmental disposal of WEEE.

make producers of EEE responsible for the environmental impact of their products.

improve the environmental performance of all those involved during the lifecycle of EEE.

The default responsibility for recovery and recycling lies with the 'Producers' of electrical and electronic equipment. It is very important to understand that you do not have to manufacture EEE to be a Producer under the WEEE Regulations. Importers of electrical and electronic equipment 'on a professional basis' (i.e. those in the business of importing EEE for sale in the UK) and organisations that re-badge EEE with their own brand will also be classed as Producers by the legislation.

 

The WEEE Directive has implications for EEE producers, those who sell and distribute EEE, local authorities and consumers.

 

The directive imposes the responsibility for the disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment on the manufacturers of such equipment. Those companies should establish an infrastructure for collecting WEEE, in such a way that "Users of electrical and electronic equipment from private households should have the possibility of returning WEEE at least free of charge". Also, the companies are compelled to use the collected waste in an ecologically-friendly manner, either by ecological disposal or by reuse or refurbishment of the collected WEEE.

 

The WEEE Regulations impose two different responsibilities on producers for business to consumer WEEE depending on whether the WEEE is ‘historical’ or ‘new’. ‘Historical’ WEEE is classed as EEE that was placed on the UK market prior to August 15 2005. ‘New’ WEEE relates to EEE that has been placed on the market since that date. In theory, all ‘new’ WEEE should be marked with the crossed out wheelie bin symbol to identify it.

 

For ‘new’ WEEE, producers have responsibility for their own brand. In theory, a business wanting to dispose of a printer that has the crossed out wheelie bin can request the brand owner to collect it free of charge and then deal with the disposal although BIS have stated that producers only have responsibility to collect free of charge from a collection point. So for ‘new’ WEEE, it should be as follows:

 

End user wants to dispose of a large plasma screen TV.

They look at the brand, go to the Environment Agency website, go to the public register, look up the brand name and see which scheme it belongs to.

They then ring the scheme who tells them to take the TV to collection point X where it will be received under the scheme’s name. The scheme will then organise for the TV to be collected, treated and recycled and pass the bill back to their brand member.

 

The WEEE Regulations also place an obligation on distributors to offer to consumers a take-back system where WEEE items can be disposed of free of charge. There are two types of take-back systems, and distributors of EEE items must offer one of these schemes to their customers.

 

Take-Back Systems

 

Free in-store take-back scheme where distributors accept WEEE items from customers purchasing equivalent new items.

Distributor take-back scheme where consumers can dispose of WEEE items free of charge at designated collection facilities

 

Non compliance could result in unlimited fines for offending companies and for individual Directors and Managers on a personal level.

 

Householders

 

Under the WEEE system, householders have a duty to dispose of their electrical waste properly.

 

If the item of electrical or electronic equipment has a crossed out wheelie bin symbol on it, do not dispose of in your bin but instead take it to the nearest household waste recycling or civic amenity centre.

Alternatively you can contact your local authority to arrange for collection, for which there will be a charge.

When purchasing a new electrical item, you can arrange with the retailer to collect the old one.


On Safe Lines QHSE Software Help file v1.071.0093 : Copyright © 2018 Brian G. Welch MSc(QHSE), NVQ4(OH&S), CMIOSH


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