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Reducing and managing waste in the UK

In England alone, we produce 177 million tonnes of waste each year. This has a high cost to businesses and households, and causes environmental damage. Our Government wants to move towards a ‘zero waste economy’ – a society where resources are fully valued, financially and environmentally. This means that we will strive to reduce, reuse and recycle however we can, only sending rubbish to landfill as a last resort.

The importance of recycling

As a nation, we have been making it easier and more efficient for individuals and organisations to recycle. UK laws now require businesses to ensure that a large proportion of their manufactured goods are recovered and recycled. These laws have incorporated EC legal requirements, particularly regarding those including electrical waste pertaining to retailer and distributors of such products. These requirements state that both must comply with the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) regulations.

What is Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment?

WEEE is electrical or electronic equipment that has come to the end of its ‘user life’ and covers a range of equipment. Those items that use electricity, usually connected via a plug or battery, are included in this category. WEEE is classified as either household or non-household and, up until recently, has not been recycled.

WEEE is classified as either household or non-household and, up until recently, has not been recycled.

What are the risks of WEEE Waste?

The UK discards an estimated 2 million tonnes of WEEE items every year

Every year, households and companies in the UK discard an estimated 2 million tonnes of WEEE items. Those items that are discarded contain a variety of materials, including metal, glass, plastics, ceramics and precious metals. Because of this complex mix of materials, some are hazardous (such as mercury and lead) and exposure to some substances (such as mercury released from fluorescent tubes) without specialised waste processes can create a number of health risks.

What is the WEEE Directive?

February 2013
The WEEE Directive became European
law in
February 2003

The European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive became European law in February 2003 and aims to reduce the amount of WEEE waste that is sent to landfill and reduce the hazardous substance content of Electronic and Electrical Equipment (EEE).

As part of the WEEE Directive, regulations are put in place for producers of non-household WEEE to recover, reuse, recycle and treat such unrequired electrical goods in compliance with UK and EU legislation. This involves the majority of businesses in the UK and means this specialist sub-sector is rapidly expanding to accommodate these changes.

Why was there a need for a WEEE Directive?

Technology is advancing at an astonishing rate and the manufacturing of electronic goods is increasing to satisfy these needs. The RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) set restrictions upon European manufacturers in 2002 as to the material content of new electronic equipment placed on the market.

As steps are being taken to control the manufacture of electronic goods, the need becomes greater to control the disposal of the old, unwanted and discarded WEEE, for social, economic and environmental reasons.

The EC set targets to be a minimum rate of 4 kilograms per head per annum for recycling by 2009.

Disposing of electrical equipment

The EC (European Community) introduced the WEEE directive to address the social, economic and environmental impact of all unwanted electrical and electronic equipment when it is no longer needed and is ready to be disposed.

The EC set collection, recycling and recovery targets to be a minimum rate of 4 kilograms per head (of population) per annum for recycling by 2009. Waste of WEEE therefore needs to be specifically and adequately managed.

Why did we write this guide?

We aim to be London’s most environmentally friendly waste clearance company, providing a range of waste clearance services for both homes and businesses. Our focus is on social and environmental responsibilities and how we can help to comply with all legislative changes regarding waste clearance to ensure a better and more sustainable quality of life.

In the UK, we produce over 300 million tonnes of general waste each year. Only 2% of e-waste is reused, even though 23% is suitable for reuse. This guide focuses on the importance of waste clearance and serves to help those involved in the disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment. We, as a business, aim to provide a safe and reliable service as a specialised waste carrier and handler.

WEEE is now the law

The Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2013 came into force and became the law in the UK on 1st January 2014, replacing the original 2006 regulations. These regulations mean that more products will be covered by the Directive with effect from 1st January 2019. We make it our objective to conduct all WEEE clearances in compliance with the new directive in a clear, concise, easy and most importantly, efficient manner.


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