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With the UK consistently ranking as a leading producer of electronic waste, as well as struggling to meet its recycling targets, it is no secret that WEEE (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment) is a big concern for both the public and businesses in Britain.
In response, the government has set out comprehensive legislature in recent years to tackle the matter. That being said, it is more important than ever to keep businesses informed on responsible WEEE disposal.
This article will cover key points regarding WEEE regulation for businesses, practical advice on disposal, and finding the right WEEE recycler.
What is WEEE Waste?
Firstly, we wanted to cover the basics – What is WEEE? Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is any electrical or electronic waste, that needs to be disposed of. Generally speaking, most WEEE waste includes anything that operates with a battery or a plug.
Appliances vary greatly, that is why they need to be assorted into categories as they need to be treated differently. These systems of classification can vary within British frameworks, as certain ones often overlap with each other. But to put it broadly, the government typically uses this list of categories for compliance reporting and recycling purposes:
- Large household appliances
- Small household appliances
- IT and telecommunications equipment
- Consumer equipment
- Lighting equipment
- Electrical and electronic tools (excluding large scale industrial tools)
- Toys, leisure and sports equipment
- Medical devices (excluding implanted and infected products)
- Monitoring and control equipment
- Automatic dispensers
- Display screens/appliances
- Cooling appliances
- Gas discharge lamps and LED light sources
- PV/Solar Panels
UK WEEE Regulations
The Waste Electrical and Electronics Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2013 is the key legislation for regulating WEEE. In summary, businesses are generally required to segregate their WEEE from other waste, store them safely and securely, dispose them with a qualified waste management company, and keep records of them.
The legislature states that businesses have a few options for disposing WEEE waste, which include:
- Returning it to its original retailer.
- Taking it to a recycling centre.
- Arranging a collection from a reliable waste management company.
Basically, businesses need to recycle their electronics! We can’t just simply throw them in the bin. Some companies also have other obligations to follow, these can include.
- Producers who manufacture and sell electronics under their own brand.
- Producers that buy and rebrand electronics and sell them again to the British market.
- Producers that import electronics for commercial purposes.
- Producers who are based abroad but still sell electricals in the UK via distance selling (e.g. online, mail order, phone…).
- Distributors/Retailers that supply electricals to the UK market, including by distance selling.
Responsibilities of Producers
Responsibilities between the businesses may vary, such as producers needing to register as such every year. The way they do that depends on the amount of electrical products they place in the UK market; smaller producers can just directly register with an environmental regulator, while producers of over 5 tonnes of EEE need to join a producer compliance scheme. Furthermore, the conditions to these terms may vary.
Responsibilities of Distributors
Obligations and schemes vary for distributors as well, depending on the size of their operations and sales area. To put it broadly, most distributors need to offer customers free takeback schemes on WEEE (including like-for-like products), keep a track record of everything for at least four years, and provide customers with information on what to do with their WEEE.
Business WEEE Disposal – Some Practical Advice
There are also some practicalities to keep in mind when you’re disposing this stuff. This section will cover a few helpful things to keep in mind…
Recycling Hazardous WEEE
Remember that list of WEEE categories we laid out earlier? It’s not there just for fun. It’s important to note that some of them get treated and processed differently from other WEEE at recycling facilities.
Some appliances such as fridges contain hazardous substances or persistent organic pollutants (POPs). This means that they often need to be treated as separate hazardous waste once they’re at a waste management facility. That being said, it is important for these waste types to have a compliant system in place to ensure that they’re safe for disposal.
If you have WEEE that needs to be thrown out, and aren’t sure if it’s hazardous, it is probably best to contact a waste management company with a wide variety of services, so you can dispose all of it, hazardous or not, with one hassle-free partner.
Your Data and GDPR
When dealing with WEEE containing your sensitive data, the UK WEEE Regulations 2013 expects businesses to take extra steps to ensure that any personal or sensitive data stored on their WEEE waste is deleted before disposal to prevent data breaches.
There’s more to it as well, businesses may also be subject to GDPR and Data Protection laws when dealing with client or consumer information, meaning that they need to have a proper system in place to dispose of their data safely.
These issues can be sorted by booking a specialised confidential waste service, ensuring secure data destruction.
WEEE Recycling for Businesses
Considering the points made so far, it is important to keep proof of how your WEEE was stored and given to an authorised waste management company to demonstrate that it was treated and disposed of in a professional and environmentally sound way. That is why having a compliant waste management company like Bywaters will save you hassle in the long-run.
Moreover, the UK government is allocating £5 billion to help businesses reach their Net Zero targets by 2050. It is imperative for businesses to partner with companies that can also offset their carbon emissions for further funding.
When compared to traditional waste management companies, partnering with Bywaters will help your business’s environmental track record. Our dedicated team of Sustainability consultants can help your facilities to improve their recycling targets. Moreover, our operations, which include a solar-fitted facility and an increasingly electrified fleet can help you reduce your scope 3 emissions, helping your entire value chain to become environmentally friendly. Contact us today to find out how we can help you reach your sustainability goals.
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