What Is The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive?

The BBC has an excellent Q&A on the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive which came into force in the UK and the rest of the European Union on July 1st. “It requires member nations to collect and recycle the equivalent of 4kg of ‘e-waste’ for every person living in the country”. E-waste is electronic equipment waste, such as televisions, PC’s, microwaves and so on.

WEEE Symbol

With people in Britain changing mobile phone on average every 18 months, and computers every 3 years, the amount of e-waste is increasing massively. Currently about 90% of these gadgets end up in landfill, an estimated 1.2m tonnes a year. Manufacturers, importers and retailers of electronic and electrical goods are now obliged to put systems in place that allow customers to recycle their obsolete devices free of charge.

They also have to join one of 37 authorised “producer compliance schemes”. However these schemes let them pay a percentage of the total cost of recycling, based on their market share, meaning that potentially manufacturers with better designed products can be penalised, as they do not benefit from the environmental savings their products make.

However, with the amount of gadgets in the home set to double by 2010, there will be an ever increasing amount of WEEE to deal with, and the current legislation is a step in the right direction.


9 thoughts on “What Is The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive?

  1. The UK and the EU are so far ahead of the U.S. where its all about business “self regulating” themselves.

    I think we are going to get to the point when we are going to have to mine our own landfills because there are a lot of dwindling minerals that are needed to make sophisticated computer parts… That’s when we will recycle! It will be pure self interest on the part of business!



  2. This is a nice way to pay for the Electronic Waste, but the time will come where they will charge the end consumer.

    Waiting for this, another bin in front of my house. 🙂



  3. The WEEE directive implements the only way to recycle electronics. There won’t be a seperate bin in front of your house as it’s got to be recycled by a WEEE specialist (like us!). The charge is made to the manufacturer and in most instances has been added to the value of the goods- flourescent tubes have a charge of 15 pence built into the price to cover the cost of recycling them.


  4. Even now we are seeing frustration from end processors of WEEE that householders are not educated enough on the issue or not placing electrical items and batteries into the general waste. We get enquiries from householders all over England unsure of where to recycle their old kettle, toaster etc… More needs to be done to educate, and i hear today that a tv advert idea is in the pipeline.


  5. It seems a large proportion of businesses are becoming aware of the requirement to recycle their old computer equipment due to the ever increasing number of IT and WEEE disposal companies.

    Getting the point across to the general public is much more difficult and I agree that a TV advert may help raise awareness.

    Mobile phone disposal companies are on the increase but it seems we need more laptop recycling websites!


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