About the WEEE Directive



Who is this WEEE guide for?

This guide is intended to help organisations who want to ensure the best possible outcome for their end-of-life PCs and laptops and make sure they fully comply with WEEE Legislation. In particular, this guide will explain simply the scope of the WEEE legislation as it relates to the re-use of IT equipment and demonstrate how Computer Aid International can provide a solution which will enable organisations to comply with the WEEE legislation whilst ensuring their equipment is reused or recycled to maximise social and environmental benefit.

What is the WEEE Directive?

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive) is an EU initiative which aims to minimise the impact of electrical and electronic goods on the environment, by increasing re-use and recycling and reducing the amount of WEEE going to landfill. The UK Regulations implementing the WEEE Directive were laid before Parliament on 12th December 2006 and entered into law on 2nd January 2007.

The regulations will be enforced from July 1st 2007.

How will it work?

The regulations state that producers, manufacturers and retailers of electrical and electronic equipment will be responsible for ensuring any equipment sold after 13th August 2005 or being replaced on a like for like basis, is re-used or recycled at the end of life.

All producers, manufacturers and retailers are required to be a member of a Producer Compliance Scheme (PCS) which will deliver collection and reprocessing services of equipment on their behalf. Some producers, manufacturers and retailers will have their own PCS, others will be members of a collective scheme. There are currently 22 PCSs.

The PCSs will send WEEE to re-use and recycling organisations to be processed. These organisations must be registered as Approved Authorised Treatment Facilities (AATF) with the Environment Agency. The AATFs will provide evidence of the amounts of WEEE treated to the PCSs including a breakdown of the type of equipment and its weight.

Organisations transporting equipment overseas for reprocessing must be registered as an Approved Exporter with the Environment Agency.

Who is affected by the Directive?

Producers, retailers and distributors, local authorities, waste management industry, exporters and re-processors, businesses and other non-household users of EEE

How does the WEEE directive affect me as a business?

The WEEE directive will affect every organisation and business that uses electrical equipment in the workplace. The regulations cover all types of electrical and electronic equipment including the obvious computers, printers, fax machines and photocopiers, as well as fridges, kettles and electronic pencil sharpeners. The regulations state that business users are responsible, along with producers, for ensuring their WEEE is correctly treated and reprocessed.

The directive places responsibility on the producers and retailers of WEEE to pay for and organise the collection, treatment, and recovery of WEEE. They can levy a charge at the point of sale to cover this cost at the end of life. Check the small print of any contract to see if you are paying for this service at the end of life. You can ask for these charges to be removed if you wish to make your own arrangements for end of life equipment.

If the equipment for disposal was purchased after 13 th August 2005 or replaced on a like for like basis when buying new equipment, a business can request that either the original producer or the retailer of the new equipment collect it at its end of life. This may make sense for broken or obsolete equipment.

However a business user is not obliged to send their equipment back to the producer - they can choose where they would like their equipment to go. Businesses must simply ensure their unwanted equipment is being dealt with in accordance with the WEEE directive. This means that they must send their equipment to an AATF who can provide them with a transfer note that details the type and volume of equipment disposed of.

The good news is that the WEEE regulations will not prevent or restrict you from donating your equipment for re-use to a charity such as Computer Aid International. The regulations actually encourage the re-use of equipment over recycling. By donating your equipment to Computer Aid you are prioritising re-use and fully complying with the directive. Point 224 of the Government guidelines on the WEEE Directive on the DTI website, states

“the Regulations do not restrict or prevent you from selling or donating EEE for reuse”.

Why should I ensure that equipment is re-used wherever possible?

Re-using equipment saves energy and resources and prevents hazardous materials from ending up in landfill. Empirical research proves beyond doubt that reuse of computers is much better for the environment than recycling. Reusing a computer is 20 times more effective at saving life cycle energy use than recycling.

A new study has found that the production of every desktop PC consumes 240kg of fossil fuels, 22 kg of chemicals and 1.5 tonnes of water. Given the substantial environmental cost of production it important we recover the full productive value of every PC through reuse before eventually recycling it to recover parts and materials at its true end-of-life.

A refurbished computer from Computer Aid International can provide up to 6000 hours of training in a developing country. This means basic computer literacy for at least 48 children from just one donated computer.

How does the WEEE directive affect charities such as Computer Aid International?

The WEEE directive actively supports the role of organisations such as Computer Aid International. The regulations state that re-use charities provide both environmental and socio-economic benefits. To encourage re-use, the government has decided that evidence of re-use by charities can be used by the PCSs towards their targets for re-use or recycling of WEEE. Point 250 of the WEEE Directive government guidelines state:

"The government believes that the inclusion of re-use of whole appliances in evidence returns delivers the most appropriate and strongest incentive...to work with genuine re-use organisations and to prioritise re-use of whole appliances where appropriate."

The government is also encouraging re-use charities to register as an AATF to enable them to continue their vital work.

Do I need to worry about data security?

Under the Data Protection Act 1998 it is your responsibility to destroy any personal data that may be stored on the machines. Just hitting the delete button is not enough to wipe the data. To ensure you are protected make sure any organisation you use to dispose of your WEEE uses a professional data wiping solution like the industry leading Blancco deletion service offered by Computer Aid International which ensures that data recovery is impossible. For more information on Computer Aid's data destruction services, click here.

Companies who have used Computer Aid International’s PC decommissioning services include:

British Airways, Ford, Virgin Travelstore, Honda Formula 1, the National Audit Office, Royal Mint, Packard Bell and Christian Aid. For more details on companies that have used Computer Aid's decommissioning services, click here.

How does Computer Aid International comply with the new legislations?

Computer Aid International has been approved by the environment agency to operate as an Authorised Approved Treatment Facility (AATF) for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).Having AATF status means that Computer Aid International is now authorized to issue the evidence notes required by Producer Compliance Schemes (PCSs), which are designed to prove that original IT equipment manufacturers have paid for the recycling of their products and are therefore complying with the law.

Any equipment that Computer Aid is unable to re-use that doesn't pass our stringent quality tests, is recycled through licensed waste management companies that guarantee 0% of unusable equipment ends up in landfill.

To improve our services further we are currently working towards the Quality Management Standard ISO 9001:2000 and Environment Management standard ISO 14001.

Who is responsible for enforcing the WEEE directive?

The Environment Agency (SEPA in Scotland and EHS in NI) are the enforcement agency for the WEEE Directive. The DTI is responsible for transposing the WEEE Directive into UK law, working in partnership with the Devolved Administrations.

Why it is better to donate your IT equipment to Computer Aid International rather than send it to a Producer Compliance Scheme?

Donating your unwanted IT equipment to Computer Aid is both environmentally friendly and socially responsible. You will be fully complying with the WEEE directive and benefiting from our professional free PC decommissioning service.

Schools and universities in the developing world using a PC professionally refurbished by Computer Aid will enjoy at least 3 or 4 years productive PC use. This effectively doubles the life of a PC halving its environmental footprint whilst enabling some of the poorest and most marginalised people in the world to have access to computers.

For more information about Computer Aid International’s decommissioning services please contact Anja ffrench on 020 8361 5540, email anja@computeraid.org, or visit the PC donation section of our website.





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