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WEEE Recycling for Households


Although most people understand the general concept of recycling, the majority are uncertain about all recycling procedures. Separating plastic from paper and putting them in the correct recycle bins may be the norm for some, but what do people do with waste that does not have an allocated recycle bin? When a mobile phone, computer or any electrical equipment are of no use to the owner anymore the practise is to throw out the item with no regard to recycling. In fact, when it comes to electronics, more often than not re-usable, faultless, electronic equipment is thrown out when a greener solution is available.

Improper discarding of electronic equipment is damaging the environment and also having a negative impact on community health. Cadmium, lead, mercury and other harmful elements are found in electrical waste and as they decay they release these dangerous substances and chemicals into water, soil and surrounding environments. Due to these detrimental situations new directives have been produced and put into practice to prevent them from occurring. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive has been implemented to promote the recovery, reuse and recycling of electrical and electronic equipment. One of the key measures for the directory is to push manufacturers into taking responsibility of recycling their own products. WEEE recycling calls for conformity not only from manufacturers but also importers, retailers, sellers and businesses that have equipment they wish to dispose.

The WEEE directive has encouraged people to discard their electronic equipment in the correct manner by creating take back facilities – these facilities are usually of little cost or of no cost for their users. The directive has been successful in persuading some retailers like Equanet to take back their products themselves to ensure proper disposal and recycling. Also important to the WEE directive is helping individuals to enforce their mission by actively implementing WEEE recycling at home. Even though the WEEE directive does not penalise individuals for disregarding its rules, it does supply a template or guidelines for responsible green citizens to adhere to.

There are a variety of things that an individual can do to ensure WEEE recycling at home. The first step to take, of course, is understanding what actions you can take and what household items are classified under WEEE. The UK Environmental Agency list equipment that fall into this category as: Consumer equipment, IT equipment and IT hardware, electrical and electronic tools, automatic dispensers, lighting and monitoring and control equipment.

Individuals are encouraged to split WEEE items using the list as a guide. Once separated, the next step is to locate a resource that is willing to take these items. Locally there are many government supported facilities that are legally required to take these from you; this is the easiest and perhaps most effective option to take. Lists of local civic amenities are easy to find and an individual does not need to put much effort in to ensure he is playing his part in saving the environment. Individuals can also contact local retailers and sellers and ask for their recall policy for previously purchased products. If the recall option is not available, individuals should get hold of information about recommended facilities and recycling centres. As part of the WEEE directive it is now an obligation for retailers to supply information about these facilities and procedures.

Through little effort you can make a long-term difference in saving the environment and benefiting the local community.


Note: the WEEE Directive  is currently only in Europe
Thanks to Amy Henderson for the article.

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