Thursday, 20 May 2010

Making Sense of the WEEE Directive: What is it, and what is it aiming to achieve?

The WEEE directive has been published in response to the ever growing pile of electronic waste we are generating. It first became law in the UK in 2003 and has been updated a number of times, most recently in 2009.

In the UK alone we produce around 1.8 million tonnes each year so it’s something that really needs dealing with effectively and responsibly. One of the big problems with e-waste is the hazardous chemicals it contains which, if not disposed of responsibly can leach into water systems and cause extensive environmental damage. The WEEE Directive covers a wide range of electrical and electronic products, although some are exempt from certain requirements.

The types of products covered are:
  • 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) toys, leisure and sports equipment
  • Automatic dispensers
  • Medical devices (these are exempt from the WEEE recycling and recovery targets)
  • Monitoring and control instruments

There is also The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, which specifically aims to reduce substances such as lead and mercury in new electronic equipment.

These two directives provide a “double pronged” approach to tackle the problems of e-waste from both ends.

One particularly key aim of the WEEE directive is to reduce the amount of electrical and equipment being produced and to encourage everyone to reuse, recycle and recover it.

This means that both individuals and businesses have formal responsibilities in terms of dealing with e-waste: recycling it where possible and disposing of it in the right way. Of course, we all that responsibility before – just now we can’t get out of it!

Remploy e-cycle helps organisations in the United Kingdom to recycle computers and electronic waste, meeting all their IT and communications (ICT) equipment recycling needs. They should be every businesses first port of call when it comes to seamless compliance with the WEEE directive.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Top Tips for a Great E-waste Drive!

When @Sharlaboo contacted us through Twitter to ask us what our top tips for a successful e-waste drive are, we got to thinking. What does make for a successful e-waste drive and what does it take to go on and do it?

The key to a successful drive is to ensure before you start that you’ve planned it thoroughly from start to finish. That means being clear about what you’re going to collect and what you’re going to do with the items you’re going to collect. The last thing you want is to find you’re stuck with items that you can’t deal with effectively. And there are plenty of rules and regulations you need to read up on to make sure you’re fulfilling your responsibilities. But don’t let all that put you off – there are people out there who know every nook and cranny of the WEEE directive.

It’s also important to have a clear timescale within which to complete your drive. That way you can see what kind of e-waste landscape is in your area – what items people are looking to dispose of, how many people will use the service in a given timescale and whether the drive took place in the right place at the right time. By working in this way, you can effectively review your drive and find out what went well and where improvements can be made.

So who do we recommend here in the UK for anyone looking for a great e-waste drive? Remploy e-cycle helps organisations in the United Kingdom to recycle computers and electronic waste, meeting all their IT and communications (ICT) equipment recycling needs.

Remploy e-cycle guarantees data security and destruction during the recycling process, enabling the safe re-sale of your end-of-use equipment adhere to the highest of international standards (including ISO 14001 and ISO 9001). They also make a sustainable difference in the lives of disabled people by providing employment, learning and personal growth opportunities.

So, here are our top tips:

Make sure your campaign is targeted:
  • Who is going to use the e-waste bins
  • Where is the best place to situate the bins for that group

Complete the process:
  • Once you’ve gathered the e-waste what are you going to do with it
  • Are you going to use a certified body to deal with the e-waste (recommended)
  • How are you going to ensure all data on the devices is erased
  • Make sure you’re up to date on the laws regarding data security and e-waste disposal

Put together a seamless team:
  • Who is going to manage each aspect of the project
  • How are they going to communicate effectively with one another

Make sure the right people know about it:
  • How, when and where are you going to advertise

Get the time frame right:
  • How long will the project last
  • How will you evaluate the effectiveness of the project

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Here are our top tips to make your IT TIP tops

It’s good to know that the information on the blog here at e-Waste UK seems be proving useful. One particular person with e-cycling concerns at the top of their agenda got in touch asking our advice about the use of e-waste bins on a college campus. The discussion led to our suggestions for the most effective ways to roll out a successful e-waste project, which we’ve listed below…

First of all, make sure that your campaign is targeted. To ensure this happens, ask yourself who is going to use the ecycling resources that you are putting in place. Once you have defined your audience, you then need to work out the most convenient and appropriate places to situate the waste disposal facilities.

The same as with any recycling scheme, to be successful you need to make sure you keep on top of the processes involved. For example, once you’ve gathered the e-waste what are you going to do with it? How are you going to ensure that all of the data on the devices you collect is erased? It’s important to make sure you’re up to date on the laws regarding data security and e-waste disposal.

Another consideration that goes hand-in-hand with the above is who is going to manage each aspect of the project and how are they going to communicate with each other? What you need to do is put together a team that can work seamlessly together.

Ecycling campaigns are only effective if people know about them. Ask yourself how, when and where are you going to advertise? It’s imperative that you spread the word to raise awareness. Maybe even think about incentivising people to get involved.

Put a time frame in place and decide in advance how long the e-waste drive is going to last for. Also, when all is said and done, how will you know if the e-waste project has been successful? Define the ways and means of evaluating just how effective the scheme has been.

We wish you every success with your green IT projects and why not get in touch if you would like to ask any questions to help get your environmental campaigns up and running…

Find out more about green IT solutions.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Electronic waste can have a very expensive effect on the environment. So why is talk so cheap?

With so much scrutiny and debate going on over the issues surrounding eWaste, why isn’t more being done? Is it time to simply stop talking and start acting? Is bureaucracy getting in the way? Or is it vital that we carefully evaluate every step of the actions we take?

It would appear that currently there are several occurrences of electronic waste being disposed of illegally around the world, particularly in Africa.

The Independent Newspaper recently reported that Greenpeace has uncovered evidence that UK electronic waste, such as TVs and computers, are being illegally dumped in Nigeria.

It’s certainly thought by many that Lagos in Nigeria and Accra in Ghana are being used as dumping grounds for toxic European electronic waste, which is being disguised as second-hand goods.

But what’s the truth?

Greenpeace had its own methods of finding out, which they reported as follows: “Acting on a tip-off, we launched our operation to see just where some electronic waste was ending up. We took an unfixable TV, fitted it with a tracking device and brought it to the UK’s Hampshire county council for recycling. Instead of being safely dismantled in the UK or Europe, like it should have been, the council’s ‘recycling’ company, BJ Electronics, passed it on as ’second-hand goods’ and it was shipped off to Nigeria to be sold or scrapped and dumped.”

But even in the light of such events, it’s important not to be too alarmist. However, we should certainly strive to be decisive.

What is important is that we put in place the most effective ways to address the issues.

Tony Roberts, from Computer Aid International, believes there is no mystery about what needs to be done. He thinks the way forward is for every country to build the end-of-life processing facilities required to handle their own eWaste.

He also points out that the best recycling centres exist in the countries that have an effective green and environmental lobby that can force their government to put end-of-life recycling capacity in place.

Mr Roberts lists five central demands that he claims must be made of government authorities:

1. Outlaw the importation of foreign Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
2. Outlaw the dumping of domestic eWaste (WEEE)
3. Compel the re-use of EEE through social re-use programs for rural hospitals and disadvantaged schools
4. Compel the recycling of all WEEE at the end of it useful life
5. Resource the effective policing of these laws and prosecution of those who break this law

What do you think is realistic for us to accomplish? And exactly how should we achieve it?

If you are an IT Manager, or responsible for the recycling of WEEE in your organisation, are you fully aware of the legal issues and what you can achieve?

Find out more about recycling eWaste at

Read more about the views of Tony Roberts from Computer Aid International.

Read more about Greenpeace using GPS to track illegal e-waste in Nigeria.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

What a wonderful way to use waste!

When it comes to recycling, a little bit of imagination can go a long, long way. The more inventive we can be in terms of the ways we re-use the electronic waste we produce, the better…

You can’t help but admire the circuit board Christmas tree ornaments produced by The company is clearly very resourceful and, on top of that, they demonstrate that if we think creatively about how we re-use our WEEE, we can not only develop brand new ways of recycling and reducing harmful waste, we can also make the process profitable as well.

Recycle2shop is driven by a desire to help the environment by decreasing landfill. Everything they sell and promote is made from recycled materials and they call what they do: ‘Trash 2 Treasure’. It is certainly an admirable ethos.

What is also pleasing to know is that they aren’t alone.

There are literally hundreds of companies out there producing arts, crafts and gifts from recycled waste. Not all of it is manufactured from electronic items but the shared mindset appears to be simple, effective and lucrative: Don’t recycle it; re-create it.

Have you got any exciting new ideas of what to do with your old PCs, TVs, phones and fridges?

You could be sitting on a goldmine!

Read more about Recycle2shop:

Find out about making additional revenue from end-of-use ICT equipment.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

To stop us constantly changing our gadgets would require changing our human nature. Or would it?

In today’s world – where the large and rapid consumption of technology is driven by the public’s demand for smaller, faster and cheaper gadgets – is the idea of charging consumers an upfront fee to reduce replacement rates, as well as cover the eventual cost of recycling, commercially feasible? Or is it just wishful thinking?

According to researchers at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, including the cost of recycling in the initial cost of an item has two benefits: firstly, it will encourage people to actually use their electronic devices for longer; secondly, it will give manufacturers more research and development time to enhance the products they launch to market.

There is no doubt that we devour technology at an astonishing rate. On average, Americans replace their mobile phones every 18 months, in Europe it is every 15 months, and in Japan – where gadgets are revered perhaps more than anywhere else – the replacement cycle is just nine months.

And it’s not just phones that get upgraded regularly. The global replacement rate for digital cameras is between two and three years, and for PCs it is approximately four years. With so much potentially harmful electronic waste being produced, it’s no wonder that the laws and issues surrounding the recycling of WEEE are such hot topics.

Erica Plambeck of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and Qiong Wang of Alcatel-Lucent Bell Laboratories, quite rightly point out that if the replacement cycle of electronic items can be slowed down then we will see a dramatic reduction in the amount of waste produced. They believe they’ve found that government initiatives – such as the recycling fee added to the cost of new electronics in California – can provide a successful method of accomplishing this goal.

Talking about adding an upfront recycling fee to electronic products, Erica Plambeck said: ”When this additional cost to consumers is added at the beginning of the product life cycle, a ‘new equilibrium’ is established. Manufacturers are in less of a rush to introduce new products. Consumers anticipate using an item for longer, and so are willing to pay more for it.”

However, are her views realistic? The world of business is driven by profits and capital assets, so why would a manufacturer want to sell fewer products? And when you also consider the extent that marketing methods and advertising messages manipulate us into believing that our social status is often defined by the material objects we own, then the desire for wanting the ‘newer and better’ version of a gadget is, quite simply, part of our human nature.

And that is something which is going to be very difficult to change.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

WEEE Recycling: coming soon to a High Street near you.

Recycling our smaller WEEE items… it’s all a matter of convenience.

In a world where convenience is king, it is easy to understand – but not condone – why we dispose of our smaller waste electrical equipment without the necessary regard to the environment. But just because an item is small does not mean it isn’t significant in terms of the damage it can do if it isn’t recycled correctly.

We have mentioned before about the convenience of recycling our old phones and smaller WEEE items when compared to larger waste equipment. A television or refrigerator, for example, can’t be easily ignored when it comes to throwing them out. But an old and defunct phone, remote control, battery or bulb can be easily discarded without so much as a second thought.

So how do we solve the problem?

Well, it would appear that the issue is a hot topic for many commercial organisations. And that can only be a good thing.

For example, Sainsbury’s has just announced that they will introduce an electric and electronic recycling point for lightbulbs and batteries in their stores from the end of January 2010.

Many of us visit the supermarket at least once a week, and knowing that a recycling facility is available will undoubtedly increase our awareness, as well as our habit, of recycling everyday electronic waste.

Sainsbury's environmental affairs manager, Jack Cunningham said: "Battery collections also become a requirement in the UK from early 2010, Sainsbury's is therefore delighted to be the first national UK retailer to launch a co-collection scheme for both waste streams."

Another high street name that we are all familiar with – Marks & Spencer – is approaching the issue with a different approach. To tie in with the festive season the company is launching a corporate recycling offer to turn unwanted mobile phones and IT assets into M&S Luxury Christmas Hampers.

The offer, which is open to any business, begins on October 19th and will run up until 11th December. The promotion will match the value of any unwanted mobile and IT assets with a like-for-like valued M&S Christmas hamper.

Sales and Marketing Director Simon Walsh said: “We feel this is an excellent promotion for the run in to Christmas. It’s a convenient and easy way for firms to turn unwanted mobile and IT assets into quality hampers which can be used for party celebrations, incentives and various other internal activities”

And then there is the EcoATM! Looking very similar to a standalone cash dispenser, this automated reuse-and-recycle machine allows consumers to recycle abandoned electronics. Currently the machine only accepts phones, but it will be able to take other electronic equipment – cameras, MP3 players, computers – in the near future. To use EcoATM, you feed your old phone into the machine, which analyses it and assigns the item a value. You can then choose to receive a store credit, if the EcoATM says it has resale value, or have the amount donated to charity. If the phone has no resale value, you can simply have it recycled.

With so many options and incentives becoming available on the high street, there is no reason to think that just because a WEEE item small, it isn’t convenient to recycle…

To read more about Sainsbury’s recycling points, click here:

Read more about the M&S Christmas incentive.

To find out more about EcoATM.

If you would like to know more about recycling your company’s ICT in a green and responsible manner, and with an accredited partner, please click here.