In the UK alone, approximately 2 million tonnes of Waste Electrical and Electronics Equipment, or WEEE, are thrown away every single year. When we speak about WEEE, this can obviously encompass many items which can be found in the home, office, and industrial settings. But what distinguishes WEEE is the fact that they make use of batteries or need plugs and sockets to function.



As of the 1st of July 2007, WEEE regulations have already been put in place. These regulations need to be followed by everyone in the UK – from individual consumers to companies of all sizes. The regulations contain directives for the proper collection, storage, and disposal, as well as recycling, of WEEE materials.


In many offices today, electronic parts and equipment are regularly replaced. So where do they go? You cannot simply throw them in the rubbish bin. They need to be disposed of in the proper manner, preferably by a professional company which is specially licensed to take care of WEEE.




WEEE regulations: Equipment categories


There are 10 categories for WEEE, and your office probably only has a certain amount of those. These 10 categories include large appliances found in any household or office, such as refrigerators, microwaves, cookers, dishwashers, and washing machines. The next category is composed of smaller appliances, such as irons, vacuum cleaners, clocks, and toasters. The third category consists of telecommunications and IT equipment, such as copying machines, personal computers and laptops, calculators, and telephones.


The fourth category of WEEE is comprised of consumer appliances and equipment, which include radios and televisions, video recorders, hi-fi stereos and equipment, and musical instruments such as electric guitars and amplifiers. In the 5th category, you would find lighting fixtures and equipment such as fluorescent tubes and high-intensity lamps. The 6th category would be electronic and electrical tools, such as drills and saws, electric lawnmowers, and sewing machines. In the 7th category are included toys  as well as sports and leisure equipment like game consoles and treadmills, whilst the 8th category includes medical equipment such as dialysis machines and medical freezers. The 9th and 10th categories include control and monitoring appliances such as smoke detectors and thermostats, as well as automatic drink dispensers and money dispensers, respectively.


Why proper disposal of WEEE is important


As you can see, WEEE is specifically classified. Each category is disposed of or recycled following strict regulations as there are often high amounts of toxic substances and hazardous materials (especially glass and metals) found in almost all of them. Some toxic materials such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium pose specific health risks. For instance, if one is exposed to the mercury in fluorescent tubes, this can lead to significant health issues.


If your office needs to dispose of a huge amount of equipment, perhaps some big appliances such as refrigerators or small appliances such as telephones and calculators, not to mention the ever-popular computer monitor and hard drive, you need to know which provider to rely on.


For offices, it is important to dispose of computers, towers, hard drives, and other memory products and equipment in the proper way – if not, your company may not only be accused of not following WEEE directives, but you may also incur the risk of unauthorised retrieval of confidential files and data. For proper WEEE shredding and destruction, visit the Shredall UK website.



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