Electronic waste is the most rapidly growing waste problem in the world. Throwing them away however, is not a good choice. Electronic goods contain hazardous substances such as lead which can affect the environment, leak into groundwater and affect our health if they are disposed of incorrectly. In 2006, we dumped a shocking one million tonnes of electrical goods into the landfill. This is set to rise as more and more electrical goods have inbuilt non-usable parts and are so cheap it is more economical for consumers to throw them away than repair.
In August 2007, a new law came out with the aim of minimising the impact of electrical and electronic goods on the environment. This encourages us to re-use, recycling and reducing the amount of WEEE going to landfill. Recycling WEEE helps to recover valuable resources such as precious metals, plastics and steel which reduce the need for raw materials.
Individuals and community groups can take responsibility locally to dispose of any WEEE responsibly. For any community to be sustainable, it should strive to create a community that is environmentally sensitive – where the environment is protected. This factsheet will help create environmentally sensitive environments and ultimately, over time, more sustainable communities.
Most electrical consumer goods discarded by households and businesses are covered by the WEEE Regulations. Charities and community groups will have similar responsibilities to business users to dispose of any end-of-life electrical equipment that they own.
Anyone who manufactures, imports, re-brands, distributes or disposes of EEE, such as household appliances, IT equipment, lighting equipment and power tools must comply with the WEEE Regulations. Here are some further steps that your community can consider to set up a WEEE recycling scheme or project in your local area.
If you decide to collect or refurbish electrical goods, please follow the links in the Additional Information section to find out in detail what is and is not covered.
The British Standards Institute has also recently published a new standard, PAS 141, which sets out how certified organisations can demonstrate that unwanted electrical items have been refurbished and restored to an acceptable standard for re-use.
Anyone setting up collection, storage or treatment sites should contact The Environment Agency for advice on the legal controls that could apply to them. Visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk. T: 03708 506506
If you do register sites as Designated Collection Facilities (DCFs), you will receive funding from the Distributors Take-back Scheme to support the separate collection and treatment of WEEE at their sites.
Some labour intensive WEEE treatment and refurbishment may not be financially attractive to the private sector but may provide worthwhile training opportunities to not-for-profit ventures and still generate some income from the sale of re-usable goods and reclaimed spare parts.
It may be worth contacting your local authority or other local or national funding grant bodies to provide training in restoring WEEE to re-use. Further details on up to date funding opportunities are available in the Directory.
WRAP www.wrap.org.uk. T: 0808 100 2040
Valpak www.valpack.co.uk. T: 08450 682 572
It may be worth contacting your local authority, full contact details can be found in the Directory.
The Environment Agency, the leading public organisation for protecting and improving the environment for people and wildlife in England and Wales.
This factsheet is part of the Brighter Futures Together toolkit and provides a general overview of the different ways to get involved in your community. It is not a comprehensive guide or legal advice document. Please seek further advice and appropriate consent before commencing any projects.
The material in the factsheet is not copyrighted however we ask that you acknowledge the Brighter Futures Together toolkit when you use them. www.brighterfuturestogether.co.uk