What is WEEE Recycling?

November 18, 2010

WEEE Recycling is a directive that began in the European Community and became a law in 2003. WEEE stands for the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive and sets up collection and recycling of differing kinds of electrical products. The WEEE directive states that the disposal of these electrical and electronic wastes are the responsibility of the manufacturers that provide the equipment. The belief is that if manufacturing companies provided a way for individual consumers to recycle their old electrical and electronic devices, free of charge, consumers from private households would be more likely to join in the recycling movement.

WEEE Recycling 447x297 What is WEEE Recycling?
Photo: walesenvtrust.org.uk

The WEEE directive came into full force in 2007, requiring manufacturers to collect and dispose of electrical and electronic equipment in an way that is environmentally-friendly; manufacturers are also offering consumers the chance to return used and unwanted items, often leading to the refurbishment and reuse of items by the manufacturers. WEEE is often talked about in relation to manufacturing companies and large-scale recycling, but often neglected is what the directive means to the average consumer. As a consumer and individual recycler, you do not have to worry much about the guidelines of WEEE or whether you are in compliance with their regulations; it is truly the manufacturers that are charged with being strictly under the restrictions of the WEEE directive. Consumers need only be concerned with what equipment can be returned (free of charge) under the WEEE directive, and what the steps are in that process.

There are 10 categories of equipment that is provided for under the WEEE directive:
– large and small household appliances
– IT equipment
– lighting
– electrical and electronic equipment
– toys and sports equipment
– medical devices
– monitoring and control equipment
– automatic dispensers.

Under the WEEE directive, consumers are able to return any of these devices free of charge, and are entitled to a full explanation of how to do this by retailers upon sale. In fact, these items are able to be returned anywhere, whether it was bought there or not. As a consumer, we are responsible for choosing to dispose of the unwanted items in a responsible manner, as it pertains to the environment; returning the items to the retailer, or at the nearest recycling center where it is then the responsibility of the local council to dispose under WEEE guidelines.

Before implementation of the WEEE directive, unwanted electrical and electronic goods were simply dumped and unreliably recycled. It is still important to be cautious about general maintenance to these products; sometimes it is more beneficial to repair and replace parts in a product that is generally low maintenance and has a longer life-span. Too many consumers are quick to toss out good products to be replaced by a newer model or a working similar model, without taking into account general repairs. Carelessness on the part of the consumer, especially in the area of recycling electrical or electronic goods is a big reason why the WEEE directive is such a dynamic integration into societies everywhere.

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