Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) plays an ever-increasing role in our daily lives. Electrical equipment such as our kitchen appliances, mobile phones and computers, when thrown away, affect the environment.

Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the UK and the EU. At least a million tonnes of electrical and electronic waste comes from sources such as offices, factories, schools and hospitals every year in the UK.

Some WEEE contains hazardous substances and parts such as mercury in some switches, lead in solder and cadmium in batteries. The WEEE Directive imposes the responsibility for the disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment on the manufacturers of such equipment. The companies should use the collected waste in an ecologically-friendly manner, either by ecological disposal or by reuse/refurbishment of the collected WEEE.

The types of products covered in the WEEE Directive include:

  • large and small household appliances
  • IT and telecommunication equipment
  • consumer equipment such as TVs, videos, hi-fi
  • lighting, electrical and electronic tools (except large stationary industrial tools)
  • monitoring and control instruments

It is against the law to export hazardous electrical waste from the UK to developing countries, by doing so undermines the law-abiding recycling business running in the UK.

Illegally exporting electrical waste avoids the costs of legitimate recycling. Eleven defendants have been committed to stand trial in Basildon Crown Court in March, as part of the biggest investigation ever carried out by the Environment Agency into the illegal export of electrical waste from the UK to developing countries.

The defendants face charges related to shipping prohibited waste under the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007 and European Waste Shipment Regulations 2006.

Environment Agency’s National Environmental Crime Team Manager, Andy Higham, has said: “By committing this case to the Crown Court the district judge took the same view as we do, that this is a serious and complex case that needs to be heard before a judge and jury.”

These cases reinforce the severity of improper environmental management procedures and how important it is to be aware of regulations and adhere to them. A comprehensive Environmental Management System (EMS) can help you to always be on top of your Environmental duties and responsibilities as well as helping you to keep costs down.

For full details and articles, visit environment-agency.gov.uk

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