Electrical and electronic equipment is a rapidly growing sector within recycling management. Largely down to the implementation of the WEEE Directive (waste electrical and electronic equipment), the recycling targets of waste electrical items are continually being reviewed.
In 2012, the recast WEEE Directive was published, outlining the new collection targets for waste electrical and electronic equipment. Changes to the UK WEEE system were published on April 17th 2013.
Why Is WEEE Recycling Management Important?
WEEE is a complex waste stream to effectively manage as it is made up of multiple components and materials. Some of these are valuable recyclable materials such as copper and nickel, while others are hazardous such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. As a result of their mixed composition, it is imperative that both electrical manufacturers and those who produce waste electrical items employ reliable and effective recycling management for products that fall within the WEEE regulations.
Valuable components of WEEE often contain an abundant source of materials to reuse and recycle. For example an average sized TV will contain 6% metal and 50% glass, while a cooker is 89% metal and 6% glass. Through effective recycling of these products we can alleviate the pressure of finding new raw materials for the production of metal and glass. Other useful materials sourced from WEEE include plastics, ceramics and precious metals.
In the past 6 years there have been extensive amendments and additions to waste legislation and WEEE was one of the key areas to address. Every year in the UK around 2 million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment is thrown away by both domestic households and commercial companies [i]. As part of the desire to improve waste management and achieve zero to landfill for many materials, regulations are very specific and clear in outlining exactly how each waste stream can be managed and recycled within the sector.
Types Of WEEE That Can Go Through Recycling Management
Within the WEEE regulations, there are ten broad categories outlined, these are:
Large household appliances – Fridges, washing machines, cookers, microwaves etc.
Small household appliances – Vacuum cleaners, toasters, clocks, irons etc.
IT and telecommunication equipment: Telephones, personal computers, pocket calculators etc.
Consumer equipment – Televisions, radios, camcorders, musical instruments etc
Lighting equipment – Fluorescent tubes, high intensity discharge lamps
Electrical and electronic tools – Drills, lawn mowers, sewing machines, saws etc.
Toys, leisure and sports equipment – Games consoles, running machines etc.
Medical devices (non infected) – Dialysis machines, analysers, cardiology equipment, medical freezers etc
Monitoring and control equipment – Smoke detectors, heating regulators, thermostats etc.
Automatic dispenser- Hot drink dispensers, money dispensers etc plastic recycling machine