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Electrical equipment has never been more in demand. Although this may be beneficial to consumers, the disposal of this equipment is having a negative effect on the environment. Electrical products are filling up landfills and causing damage to the surrounding environment due to their unique composition. In fact, each and every year a staggering 2 million tonnes of electrical waste is disposed of. The chemicals which are found within these devices are contaminating both soil and water. As we move into the future, it is likely that we will be manufacturing more and more electrical devices and, therefore, this problem is only going to get worse.
The government has recognised the danger in the continual disposing of electrical goods and developed the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive in 2007. The directive affects all suppliers of electrical equipment across Europe and the consumers who purchase them. The law basically says that companies who supply electrical products are responsible for their eventual recycling. Whether the equipment is faulty, or at the natural end of its life, businesses are required to complete the proper treatment and overall recycling of these products. Items which fall under the WEEE Regulation should display a symbol of a black wheelie bin with a cross over it and a thick black line underneath. Products without the thick black line underneath were likely manufactured prior to the implementation of the new law and, therefore, the recycling of that product does not fall under the responsibility of the supplier.
FAQ â?? Producers
What if I donâ??t think the regulation applies to me?
The overall WEEE Regulation is quite complex and applies to â??Producersâ?? of Electronic and Electrical Equipment (EEE). You are labelled a producer if you are a manufacturer or importer of EEE. It should also be noted that carrying out the re-branding of products will also mean you fall under this category. If you are still confused about your status and whether the law applies to you, reach out to a relevant organisation with more information on the matter.
What are my responsibilities exactly?
As a producer of EEE, you are obliged to recover, treat and correctly dispose of this equipment, at the end of its lifetime. The process works on a â??like for likeâ?? basis, e.g. if a consumer purchases a new microwave, you take back the old one, etc. You are also required to keep regular documentation of these processes as proof of your adherence to the regulation. Producers should also be ensuring that all of their relevant products are marked with the WEEE symbol. Finally, you may have to meet specific targets which prove that you implemented the scheme successfully.
How do I register?
Producers of EEE are required to join a Producer Compliance Scheme and they will complete the appropriate steps to register you with your local environmental regulator.
What about collection?
Producers should allow customers to return EEE free of charge, whether this is dropping off in-store or utilising another take-back scheme. This being said companies can provide a collection on delivery service and this can be charged to the customer at the discretion of the producer.
What if I donâ??t comply?
As with all compulsory government legislation, producers who fail to comply may be subjected to prosecution and a fine. If you would like more information on this issue or you have any queries about specific problems, you can visit the official government website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/waste/waste-electrical.htm.