The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive or WEEE Directive was introduced into UK law in January 2007 by the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulations 2006.

The WEEE Directive is intended to reduce the amount of electrical and electronic equipment being produced, and to encourage everyone to reuse, recycle and recover IT products. All sensitive information and computers must be disposed of in a secure manner.

Your responsibilities

Importers, re-branders, manufacturers, sellers and businesses dealing with new electrical or electronic equipment have to comply with the UK’s WEEE regulations to increase the proper disposal of electronic waste in the industry

The regulations are in place to make sure that less electronic waste from both businesses and individuals ends up on landfill sites and that more is collected separately for proper treatment and recovery.

The WEEE directive also helps to meet recycling targets by making producers responsible for the costs of treatment and recycling of electronics rather than the users themselves. In many cases, this shift of the costs associated with WEEE disposal, from the end user to producers has a significant impact on purchasing and disposal arrangements, forcing companies to be smarter when it comes to getting rid of their waste electronics.

How to best dispose of waste electronics

Waste electronics equipment has to be disposed of correctly. With the new initiative, there are plenty of options available. The best approach is to search for local WEEE recyclers or a trade-in program. Your local rubbish tip may even have a section for recycling electronics.

Use the distributor take-back service

Another option is to deal directly with the manufacturers who often have recycling and take back schemes in place for their own equipment that is end of life. Whilst this option simplifies the lifecycle, dealing directly with a manufacturer is often very time consuming and isn’t as straightforward as dealing with a specialist WEEE recycler.

Donate or sell your old electronics

Oftentimes, people are looking to dispose of old electronics long before they are at the end of their life. Maybe you’re just looking for an upgrade? You could sell or donate your old electronics to individuals, schools or local businesses in your area who require them. Not only does this keep them out of landfill, but it also means that the product can get more use before it becomes waste electronics.

DO NOT PUT WASTE ELECTRONICS IN THE BIN

not only is this bad for the environment as more and more waste electronics go to landfill, but it also means that valuable non-renewable resources are wasted.

Waste electronics that fall under WEEE regulations

There are a number of categories that fall under WEEE regulations, so if you or your business use any of the following then it’s best that you dispose of them correctly by recycling or repurposing:

  • Small household appliances - toasters, kettles, microwaves etc.
  • Large household appliances - fridges, dishwashers, dryers etc.
  • Consumer electronics - DVD players, TV’s, telephones etc.
  • Electrical tools - drills, glue guns, soldering irons etc.
  • Monitoring and control devices - thermostats, smoke detectors etc.
  • Lighting equipment - light fixtures, bulbs, wiring etc.
  • IT & Telecoms equipment - computer screens, office phones, PC hardware etc.
  • Electronic medical devices - X-ray machines, defibrillators, thermometers etc.
  • Leisure & sports electronics and toys - fitness watches, RC toys, electronic exercise equipment etc.
  • Automatic dispensers - soap dispensers, sanitizer dispensers etc.

Popular WEEE Directive FAQ’s

WEEE, or the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, is a piece of legislation introduced into UK law in 2007 by the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulations 2006.

The goal of the WEEE directive is to reduce the amount of electrical and electronic equipment that is produced and sent to landfill and to also to promote the recycling, reuse and recovery of valuable electronics resources that can be repurposed.

Back in 2007, the WEEE directive was issued as the need for retaining valuable resources became more apparent. Electronics contain precious metals such as gold, platinum and palladium which are not renewable resources, so retrieving these metals is incredibly important for reusing in other electronic components.

IT manufacturers and businesses alike have to adhere to the WEEE rules and regulations put forward. It is the responsibility of both the manufacturers and businesses to correctly dispose of/recycle their electronic equipment when it is at the end of life.

If your business uses, sells, distributes, produces, recycles or treats electronic equipment or components, then the WEEE directive does apply to you and your business.

The regulations are applicable to any business that uses electronics that operate within a 1000 volts AC or 1500 volts DC. There are ten separate categories of equipment that falls under the legislation:
  • Small household appliances – toasters, kettles, microwaves etc.
  • Large household appliances – fridges, dishwashers, dryers etc.
  • Consumer electronics – DVD players, TV’s, telephones etc.
  • Electrical tools – drills, glue guns, soldering irons etc.
  • Monitoring and control devices – thermostats, smoke detectors etc.
  • IT & Telecoms equipment – computer screens, office phones, PC hardware etc.
  • Electronic medical devices – X-ray machines, defibrillators, thermometers etc.
  • Leisure & sports electronics and toys – fitness watches, RC toys, electronic exercise equipment etc.
  • Automatic dispensers – soap dispensers, sanitizer dispensers etc.
  • Lighting equipment – light fixtures, bulbs, wiring etc.

You will receive warning letters and formal cautions if you are seen to not be complying with the WEEE directive, giving you ample chance to adjust your processes.

If you fail to comply after warnings and cautions have been given, you may face a fine of up to £5000 at a magistrates court, up to an unlimited fine if the case goes to a crown court.

So, it’s imperative that your electronic waste disposal processes adhere to the WEEE directive or you better be prepared to shell out a hefty sum.

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