Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive Weee Ec

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This legislation was passed on 13 February 2003 but did not come into force in the UK until 2 February 2007.

This directive covers 'all equipment dependent on electrical currents or electromagnetic fields'. These are set into 10 categories and cover: large household appliances, small household appliances, IT and telecommunication equipment, consumer equipment, lighting equipment, electronic and electrical tools, toys, leisure and sports, medical equipment devices such as dialysis machines, monitoring and control equipment such as smoke detectors and automatic dispensers such as those used for hot and cold drinks and cans.

The WEEE Directive encourages reuse, recycling, recovery and environmental performance. Producers, retailers and distributors are all obliged in differing ways to participate in the disposal of the product.

Producers in the UK are obliged to register, to report UK sales and be financially responsible for collection, recycling and recovery of WEEE.

Retailers and distributors must provide free in-store take back schemes of WEEE and inform the general public of this facility.

There are considerable quantities of plastics that can be recovered from WEEE waste streams which are shown to consist of 22% plastic (Table 10.3).

Plastics form a large percentage of the total waste, and before legislation the recycling percentage of this waste was low. These wastes were landfilled. Therefore, this is potentially an area in which plastics recycling should and can be utilised. Mobile phones for example, have a number of plastic components which are easy to recycle (Figure 10.2).

Table 10.3 Composition of WEEE waste stream


% wt

Metal: ferrous


Metal: non-ferrous








Figure 10.2 Waste Mobile phone mountain (left), mobile phone pieces (right) (Source: N. Goodship)

In terms of the IPP policy, this Directive applies the life cycle ethic. What extra burdens would be imposed by a more far-reaching IPP policies are yet to be seen in this sector. However, with this in mind many companies affected by the WEEE Directive are actively involved in IPP work. For example Nokia, Motorola and Vodafone, Panasonic and Seiko Epson are involved in an EU IPP Mobile Phone pilot scheme.

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