What is WEEE?

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

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What is it?

There is an EU directive called WEEE - Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment that places an obligation on an organisation such as a school or hospital to dispose of old equipment by recycling. The cost is borne by the company or by the original producer.

Why do we use it?

To take away the old equipment and extract as much valuable material from it as possible, with the remainder going into land fill.

Another option is to be in partnership with refurbishment specialists. These organisations will take still-working old computers and refurbish them. Then they sell each computer on or donate it to a worthy cause.

WEEE recycling at home

Categorisations of WEEE

Viridor Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Recycling (WEEE)

UK Implementation

Prior to the implementation of the WEEE directive in the UK, waste electronic and electrical equipment was disposed of in the household (municipal) waste stream. Post the introduction of the Hazardous Waste Regulations, exclusions apply to electrical and electronic equipment that are deemed hazardous. Hazardous wastes are derived (issued with a universal EU descriptor) from the European Waste Catalogue (known in the UK as the List of Wastes), which denotes wastes with a six digit number in three sets of two. Hazardous wastes are denoted with an asterisk at the end of the number. Hazardous electronic wastes comprise:

  • Uninterruptable power supplies, lead-acid batteries
  • Cathode ray tubes (televisions, computer monitors)
  • Fluorescent tubes, backlights to laptop screens, thin-film transistors
  • Electrical/electronic equipment containing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)
  • Fridges and freezers, due to chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), an ozone-depleting substance. As of 2012 revisions to the regulations, all refrigerants are considered Hazardous.