Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive

Solving Problems

What's the problem?

Electronic hardware contains precious metals such as gold and silver as well as a large amount of copper and lead. Many components also make use of rare minerals such as tantalum that are becoming harder to find on the Earth.

What's the solution?

Recycling is needed to get these materials out of the ground and into the computer systems we need. An eu funded project called WEEE is responsible for recycling. On the right is the WEEE man a project to gain awareness for the WEEE initiative that is stationed at the eden projecy

What Does WEEE do?

WEEE is in in charge of making sure people recycle. They place an obligation on an organisation such as a school or hospital to dispose of old equipment by recycling. The cost is payed by the company or by the original producer.

What Is WEEE Waste?

WEEE stands for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. This means they are in charge of disposing of specific items such as:

  • Large Household Appliances (cookers, fridges, microwaves etc.)
  • Small Household Appliances (irons, clocks, vacuum cleaners etc.)
  • IT and telecommunications Equipment (personal computers, telephones, calculators etc.)
  • Consumer equipment (radios, televisions, musical instrument etc.)
  • Lighting equipment (straight and compact fluorescent tubes and high intensity discharge lamps etc.)
  • Electrical and electronic tools (drills, saws, sewing machines etc.)
  • Toys, leisure and sports equipment (electric rains, games consoles, running machines etc.)
  • Medical devices ((non infected) analysers, medical freezers and cardiology equipment etc.)
  • Monitoring and control equipment (smoke detectors, thermostats and heating regulators etc.)
  • Automatic dispenser (shot drinks dispensers and money dispensers etc.)

Who Deals With the Waste?

Many companies now use re-cycling specialists to take away the old equipment and extract as much valuable material from it as possible, with the remainder going into land fill. There are not very many of these and far more are needed, it is estimated over 2 million WEEE items are disposed.

Where's the main problem?

Large household appliances (e.g. ovens, fridges, washing machines) currently make up over 40% of WEEE but there are large volumes of other equipment such as IT equipment (mainly computers), TVs (over two million discarded each year), small household appliances (e.g. kettles and hair dryers), electrical tools, digital watches, electronic toys and medical devices.

Why Is this Such a Problem?

Such items contain a wide variety of materials e.g. an average TV contains 6% metal and 50% glass, whereas a cooker is 89% metal and only 6% glass. Other materials found include plastics, ceramics and precious metals.

As a result of this complex mix of product types and materials, some of which are hazardous (including arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury and certain flame retardants) WEEE recycling offers a number of health risks that need to be adequately managed. For example, exposure to substances released during the recycling process (such as mercury released from fluorescent tubes, lead and phosphorous pentachloride as a result of breaking cathode ray tubes, which can be very dangerous).

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