What is the WEEE Directive?

April 27, 2010

What is the WEEE Directive? Does it affect my business? What do I need to know? When it comes to going green, most of us know the credo of reduce, reuse and recycle. However, not many of us realise that this applies to not only paper, plastic and aluminium, but also electronic equipment. This equipment often contains hazardous chemicals and substances such as arsenic and lead – not what you want leaching into your soil or water supply.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, often referred to as the WEEE Directive, aims to correct this issue. Enacted in January 2007, WEEE governs the disposition of used electronic equipment. Everyone that comes in contact with the equipment, from manufacturers to importers to household consumers, is subject to the regulations.

The WEEE Directive requires that electronic items are disposed of properly. Manufacturers must offer consumers the option of returning items free of charge and dispose of the collected items in an environmentally friendly fashion.

Consumers also have a responsibility under the WEEE Directive. Electrical and electronic equipment waste must be kept separate from other rubbish and passed on to WEEE-compliant organisations or individuals. Depending on the area you live, your local authority may provide free pick-up by waste carriers or give access to local disposal centres.

Depending on the item, once disposed of it may be recycled or reused. If recycling, the hazardous substances are removed for safe disposal and the remaining components are then broken down for recycling. Many items get reused. Items are refurbished to ensure they are in good working order. The items are then passed on to local schools, third world countries, charitable organisations and others that cannot afford to buy new.

To ensure that the regulations outlined in the WEEE Directive are followed, there are penalties for non-compliance. Improperly disposing of electrical equipment can result in a fine or other punishment.