Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment recycling

These regulations were brought in in 2014. At the time there was significant focus on compliance but with the passing of time there’s a risk that awareness will have declined.  The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) were “understanding” of breaches in the early days, after several years they may take a more aggressive approach to non-compliance. 

One of our customers was contacted by the government agency responsible for enforcing the WEEE regulations.  It’s not just large electricals like washing machines and computers but everything that uses electricity.   Our client’s website offering included torches, batteries and digital watches,  these all fall under the terms of the regulations.

In brief, if you are selling any electrical or electronic equipment:

  • You must offer to take back any similar older equipment on a one for one basis (i.e. if you sell a fridge you must take back the old fridge, you can only charge for collection of the old device, not for its disposal).
  • Your obligation to accept the old equipment is limited to 28 days from sale.
  • You must arrange the proper disposal of any such equipment delivered to you within the 28 day period.
  • You must keep a record of returned equipment and how you disposed of it (for 4 years).
  • The customer is responsible for any costs in delivering the old equipment to you but they can not be charged for subsequent disposal.
  • The customer is not obliged to dispose of the old equipment but they are obliged to dispose of it in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

Suggested actions:

  • Have a WEEE compliance page on your website (and an in-store poster if applicable)
  • If selling EEE online each product should have a WEEE compliance notice (something like “This item is included in our WEEE take-back scheme”), ideally linking to a more comprehensive WEEE compliance page.
  • Include a printed WEEE compliance note with any EEE items sold either by distance selling or over the counter.
  • Maintain a WEEE compliance register to record any returned items and how they were disposed of.
  • Ensure your staff are aware of your WEEE policy so they can respond to customer enquiries correctly (“mystery shoppers” have been used to establish whether retailers are giving correct information).
  • There are specialist WEEE recycling organisations, to whom you may be able to subcontract any disposal arrangements.

You can read more (a lot more!) on the HSE web site here