WEEE, which stands for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, is an EU Directive that aims to ensure all types of electrical household appliances are reused, recycled or disposed of in a more environmentally friendly way.
Only 10% of all electrical waste produced in the EU is currently being recycled. Prior to its introduction, Banbridge District Council ran a six-month pilot scheme at Dromore Community Recycling Centre during which it collected all types of electrical household goods. Run in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the aim of this initiative was to identify the level of demand for this type of service. Some 30 tonnes of goods ranging from toasters to tumble dryers were collected.
Up to 30,000 tonnes of waste material from electrical and electronic equipment is discarded by householders in Northern Ireland each year. Local councils in Northern Ireland along with other EU member states are required to collect at least 4kg of electronic/electrical household waste per inhabitant per year. Some of the items covered in the WEEE Directive include:
- Large domestic devices such as refrigerators, washing machines and microwaves
- Small domestic devices such as vacuum cleaners, irons and hair dryers
- IT and remote communication devices such as mainframes and PCs
- Consumer devices such as radios, TVs, videos and audio equipment
- Lamps and other illumination materials
- Power tools such as drills, lathes, polishing tools and lawnmowers
- Toys such as trains, car racing sets and game devices
- Medical devices such as radiation therapy devices and electrocardiograms
- Measuring equipment
- Vending machines
The general rule of thumb is that if an item is powered by battery and/or mains (i.e. with a plug) then it is classed as WEEE. This means it can be separated for recycling.
Please note that WEEE produced by businesses cannot be accepted at either Household Waste Recycling Centre. Businesses are advised to seek companies offering a commercial WEEE collection.
Tips for Reducing Electrical and Electronic Waste
- If you have an electronic or electrical item at home that seems to have stop working, don't just dump it in your bin. Take it along to your local Community Recycling Centre
- Sometimes old electrical household items are thrown away because they no longer are in fashion. However, you should consider passing this on to someone who may find it useful
- Many of the components within electrical and electronic households items can be stripped and reused
- Consider taking a broken electrical or electronic household item along to a repair shop instead of just throwing it away