What is the WEEE Directive?

Introduced into UK law in 2006, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive) was specifically designed to address the millions of tonnes of reclaimable electronics and electrical equipment that are dumped into landfill each year. 

But what exactly does it involve? Why does it matter? And how can Asset Lifecycle Solutions help you with your WEEE problems? 

Below, we’ll look at the key information surrounding the WEEE directive to make sure you’re fully up to speed with everything you need to know. 

What are the aims of the WEEE Directive?

Since replacing the WEEE Regulations 2006 on 1 January 2014, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013 require businesses to:

  • Minimise waste arising from their electrical and electronic equipment products and promote their reuse
  • Ensure waste products are treated correctly to meet recovery and recycling targets for waste materials
  • Improve the environmental performance of everyone involved in the life cycle of EEE 

Why is the WEEE Directive important?

Electronic equipment often contains harmful heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury and lead. And with approximately 2 million tonnes of WEEE items being scrapped – all of which can be easily recycled – this can end up causing serious damage to the environment when placed into landfill or incinerated. Additionally, harmful materials from such equipment can leak into surrounding areas, contaminating drinking water and creating unfit spaces for living species. 

The WEEE Directive, then, was put in place to set out responsibilities for manufacturers to ensure that at least 85% of the materials used in their products are recycled by appropriately vetted and certified waste management firms.

In addition to reducing the volume of equipment placed into landfill each year, the WEEE Directive also has another reason for tackling this highly wasteful practice: the fact that we are burying a huge amount of wealth and resources in the ground.

All electrical equipment, from the most mundane and everyday, such as toaster or fridges, to computers, servers and printers, are filled with valuable electronics that are expensive, and in many cases, rare. Even “common” metals, such as the copper contained in wiring, are fetching a premium price.

How does WEEE recycling work?

WEEE covers all sorts of electrical and electronic items. In terms of household appliances, most of the things around your home would fall into this category, along with things such as monitoring equipment, toys and medical devices. 

As for business equipment, the most commonly disposed of and replaced electrical items include the following:

  • Desktop computers and monitors
  • Laptops
  • Keyboards and computer mouses
  • Phones including landline phones, conference phones and mobile phones
  • Printers and scanners
  • Routers

The WEEE Directive makes it possible that businesses must now offer their customers an option allowing them to recycle their old unwanted electrical items after purchasing a new one – in the form of either a collection service or a drop-off point. If you need to dispose of a large amount of WEEE, then opting to use a professional waste disposal company is your best bet. This brings us onto…

Working with the WEEE Directive

As a business, playing your part in ensuring that waste electronic and electrical equipment is properly dealt with is easy. It’s just a case of appointing a certified recycling firm to take care of the paperwork and recycling process for you. Be aware, however, that cutting corners with costs at this stage may end up costing your business far more than you could imagine. 

Whilst adherence to the WEEE Directive is mandatory for all businesses in the UK, there is an additional benefit to you – besides the obvious feel-good factor of preserving the environment and its precious natural resources. 

Some low-cost third-party recycling firms may lead you to believe they are doing your business a favour by taking away all your redundant equipment (possibly sending it to landfill, or worse, selling it on without properly erasing any data that was held on your machines). 

Asset Lifecycle Solutions always strive to reintroduce assets to market where possible, by far the most environmentally friendly solution as this saves new assets from having to be manufactured. We refurbish the assets and securely erase any data before remarketing them to either offset the cost of your service, or to return a rebate directly to you.

Where assets are not reusable, we will ethically dispose of them, dismantling equipment and segregating it into its various waste streams before sending it to pre-vetted specialist recyclers. Once there, the parts will be harvested for their materials, including plastic, copper, gold, silver, and platinum.

We use data erasing software that far exceeds all approved standards; we even offer onsite hard drive destruction. 

For more information on how Asset Lifecycle Solutions can help with your WEEE recycling, or to arrange a collection, get in touch with us here or give us a call at 01928 243 244.

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