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What is WEEE and how does it affect your business operation?

WEEE is the acronym of Waste Electronic & Electric Equipment which came into force in 2007 and under which all electrical equipment is classed as a controlled substance and/or waste; typically this can and does include although not limited to computers, laptops, phones, mobile phones and other hand held devices, washing machines, refrigerators, power tools and even electric toothbrushes. The onus has been squarely placed on business owners and management teams in larger companies to ensure that any equipment leaving the premises is disposed of in accordance with the legislation and is not channeled into landfill sites or ‘fly tipped’ by less than scrupulous operators.

The legislation was enacted as a set of proactive measures to combat the rapidly increasing problem of electrical equipment, most of which contains some type of toxic substance or heavy element in its construction. This typically includes but is not limited to lead, cadmium, mercury, bromine and arsenic as a few examples although this isn’t an exhaustive list. At the last count from when official figures are available the European Union member states disposed of six and a half million tonnes of electrical waste into landfill sites, and this figure, if nothing was done about it, was expected to rise to fifteen million tonnes by 2015.

The legislation has contributed to a significant drop in these figures and is decreasing in real terms year on year with more and more redundant and waste electrical equipment being disposed of through recycling centres and specialist companies where the waste is broken down into its individual elemental components. Plastics, steel, glass, ceramics, gold, silver, platinum and palladium are just a few of the elements of electrical equipment construction which are being recycled in increasing numbers and playing a part in improving sustainable industrial practices.

Removing and responsibly disposing of electrical waste is best dealt with by placing the burden onto a specialist licenced waste disposal, waste carrier and/or recycling company. To ensure full compliance with the legislation always make sure their credentials are up to date and do not hesitate in insisting you see proof of their liecencing credentials.

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