In the UK, waste is split into five categories: construction and demolition, recyclables and packaging, vehicle and oil, healthcare, and electronic equipment. Each of these types of waste is managed and disposed of in a different way. Most people won’t need to worry about construction, vehicle and healthcare waste as this mostly relates to businesses; so the need to know how to dispose of them isn’t necessarily relevant.
On the other hand, you will likely deal with packaging and recycling , on the odd occasion, you might need to deal with electronic disposals, too. Unlike recycling where TV adverts and marketing collateral are readily available, knowing what to do with old electronics can be unclear, to say the least. The phrase ‘WEEE’ is often thrown around, but it’s not always obvious what this is.
What Does WEEE Stand For?
The phrase ‘WEEE’ means waste electrical and electronic equipment recycling. It typically refers to the 2013 regulations by the same name which came into law in the UK in January 2014. The WEEE regulations outline how electronic items are to be disposed of and have been updated to include the 2019 WEEE directive changes.
What is WEEE Waste?
WEEE waste refers to almost anything with a plug or a battery. There are 10 main categories which are:
- Large household appliances such as fridges, washing machines and cookers
- Small household items such as irons, toasters and kettles
- IT equipment such as laptops, mobile phones and calculators
- Toys and leisure equipment such as games consoles, exercise equipment and toy robots
- Consumer equipment such as TVs, radios and electronic keyboards
- Electrical tools such as sewing machines, power tools and lawnmowers
- Automatic dispensers such as coffee machines
- Monitoring equipment such as thermostats, carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms
- Lighting such as fluorescent strip lights
- Medical equipment such as dialysis machines, cardiology machines and analysers
The UK has a WEEE waste problem, with more than two million tonnes being thrown away every year. Of that, over 40% is large household appliances, with a further two million TVs discarded every year, too.
You can spot WEEE waste because it will have an icon of a dustbin with a cross through it on the packaging or on the item somewhere.
Disposing of electronic waste is tricky because the items are typically made up of many different materials, some of which are hazardous of fridges and cookers. It is for this reason you can’t put electronic waste in your wheelie bins. Instead, you need to go to your local household civic waste centre and dispose of your items there.
Alternatively, many retailers and suppliers are now offering consumers the opportunity to swap their old items for a new one when they make a purchase. For those who don’t have time to go to a household recycling centre or to shop in-store, we can collect large household appliances such as fridges, and smaller ones like vacuum cleaners. Simply book a slot online and we will dispose of your items responsibly, and you needn’t lift a finger!
Whether you go to a civic recycling centre, drop your items off at a shop or get us to collect them from you, all electronic items will be recycled in the same way. First, they are processed and shredded. After this, an industrial magnet is used to pull out ferrous metals, like steel. Electronic currents pull out other metals, and plastic is then sorted by density and near-infrared light.
Recyclable materials are then turned into something new.
What Can Electronics be Turned Into?
With such a wide range of materials within them, electronics can be turned into almost anything. From copper pipes and industrial beams to catalytic converters and motors for toys, old electronics can be extremely useful in the manufacturing of countless other items.
If your electronic item still works, consider donating it to charity. Someone else can enjoy it and valuable funds will be raised, and you’ll be doing your part in reducing unnecessary waste, too.
Book WEEE Collection
You can book a slot with Central Junk online, choose the items you need collecting and we will come and collect your items for you. We will load them onto our van, so you don’t need to worry about pulling out bulky appliances. We are fully licensed to dispose of all types of waste, so if you have other items that need collecting, we can collect those, too. To find out more or to see if we have any same-day slots available, please contact us today.