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What is WEEE and what do you have to do to comply with the framework of the legislation?

The Waste & Electronic Equipment legislation, or to apply its acronym of WEEE was instigated in 2007 and places emphasis on the controlled disposal of all and any electrical and/or electronic equipment, and lays down a framework within which business owners and licenced disposal carriers and recyclers have to operate. Electrical and electronic equipment is now classed as hazardous waste, given the cocktail of chemical, heavy metal and toxic substances used in the manufacture of everyday items and include but is not limited to the following:

  • Televisions, digital TV decoders, video and DVD players, overhead projectors
  • Computers, laptops, printers, mobile phones, MP3 players, camcorders
  • Batteries, (vehicle and hand held device) fan heaters and air conditioning units

If you give careful thought to this there are probably hundreds of items I haven’t mentioned here, and yet all of the items you may be thinking of while reading this are classed as hazardous waste and must be disposed of accordingly. Office equipment such as computers, laptops, mobile phones and the like are typically replaced every year or two as new technologies supersedes older, out of date equipment.

It is estimated that in the EU alone some fifteen million tonnes of electronic office waste will require disposal in 2015, rising exponentially year on year thereafter as our reliance on electronic and digital equipment increases. Improving the sustainability of the electronics industry and reducing as much waste as possible by recycling as much as possible, not only are we protecting the environment in the present, but also for future generations to come.

The legislation places the emphasis on business owners and/or a delegated representative or employee to ensure the safe, responsible disposal of electronic equipment by a licenced carrier or recycler. 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. Insist on seeing the relevant licence of any potential carrier or recycling agent; by doing this you will be protecting yourself and the business from potential prosecution.

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