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WEEE Directive: 2007 Update

Aug 17, 2007
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, is one of the series of producer responsibilities Directives that makes producers of new equipment responsible for paying for the treatment and recycling of products once they have been used to their fullest extent. These new laws affect any business that manufactures brands or imports EEE as well as the businesses that sell store or treat Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE). The laws will also affect businesses that have WEEE to dispose of and the public who will have more opportunities to re-use, recycle and recover these products.

The WEEE is aiming to conserve the landfill and support a more sustainable environment to boost recycling. Boost in recycling benefits everyone, the environment, human beings, animals and more importantly the future generation.

A public consultation was launched on 25th July 2006; this was launched in order to find out people's opinions upon the Directive. The aim was to seek the view of businesses, manufacturers, retailers, producers and enforcement authorities on the initial draft of the regulations.

Some key dates regarding the WEEE directive in the UK:

December 2006 - transportation of the Directive into the UK
January 31st 2007 - deadline for the compliance schemes to apply for approval.
February 28th 2007 - deadline for compliance schemes to be approved.
March 31st 2007 - deadline for producers/schemes to register
April 1st 2007 - partial producer responsibility
July 1st 2007 - full producer responsibility

The Introduction of the rules and regulations surrounding the WEEE is due the high capacities of electrical waste being dumped incorrectly and disposed of in the incorrect manner. Electrical equipment is highly dangerous as it contains poisonous chemicals. Most of the environmental concerns which lie with inappropriate disposal of computers are the monitor. Each colour monitor contains on an average of 4 to 5 pounds of lead. Other chemicals found in computers are mercury, cadmium a known carcinogen and Hexavalent Chromium which is known to cause high blood pressure, iron-poor blood, liver disease, and nerve and brain damage in animals.

The law has finally made into the statute books and is due to take full effect from 1st July 2007. There is a little surprise however for the UK; the law is just not simply "the polluter pays." It is the job of the manufacturers disposing of the waste correctly; however it is the customer's responsibility to separate the electrics into the relevant groups they belong. To make they have disposed of the waste correctly they have to keep proof, that they have done it.

Just by disposing of electrical equipment appropriately it can help the environment a great deal. Just by doing this you are also doing your bit to help fight against global warming, habitat destruction and also helping to prevent deforestation. If these causes are not prevented, they can have devastating results upon the world and human beings.

With such thing as toasters, fridges and washing machines are a growing environmental hazard. In the UK alone there is over two million tonnes being dumped in the landfill that was last year alone. Imagine the damage from the other years? However there are no current incentives to encourage those that produce the electronics to care about their life cycle of their products.

It is said that the scheme that is being launched will establish a network of designated collection facilities where consumers can get rid of their electrical waste correctly. Primarily the money will be paid to the local authorities to assist in the improvement of civic amenity sites so that the electrical waste products can be collect separated and disposed accordingly.

The WEEE Regulations apply to electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) which falls within the 10 product categories listed in the WEEE Directive. These 10 products are the following:

1. Large household appliances
2. Small household appliances
3. IT & Telecommunications equipment
4. Consumer equipment
5. Lighting equipment
6. Electrical and electronic tools
7. Toys leisure and sports equipment
8. Medical devices
9. Monitoring and control instruments
10. Automatic dispensers

The WEEE Regulations apply to the following groups:

* Producers (any business that manufactures, imports or re-brands electrical and electronic products)
* Retailers and Distributors (any business that sells electrical and electronic equipment to end users)
* Local authorities
* Waste management industry
* Exporters and pre-processors
* Businesses and other non-household users of electrical and electronic equipment.
About the Author
Daniel Johansson is an Internet technologist who actively participates in domestic recycling. Computer recycling and disposal companies can help businesses legally dispose of WEEE.
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