29 Dec 2009

WEEE this Christmas

Yesterday I noted the excellent My Zero Waste website and urged folk to vote for them in the Green Web Awards. Today I wanted to highlight one of their recent blog posts about the campaign, by the Recycle for Gloucestershire team, to raise awareness of how to dispose of broken and unwanted waste electronics and electrical equipment (WEEE). More of that in a moment...

This is a subject dear to my heart having nearly established a company locally some years ago to deal with computer waste. I was working with a guy, Richard Drake, who set up a similar company in Canada - for various reasons, not helped by the repeated delays by our Government to bring forward WEEE guidelines, I didn't develop the project. Nevertheless it was a huge learning process and I was able to visit some very interesting projects - not least a unique machine to recycle monitors.

At the time this is what I wrote: "In the Western world there is an increasing problem with discarded computers entering landfills. At present there are few computer recycling programs to address this problem. Of particular concern are the toxic ingredients found in computers which, when disposed of inadequately, can pollute the environment. Many of these computers are still in working condition or can be easily repaired or upgraded, and thus are suitable for disadvantaged people in countries with little or no computer resources, or the needy in England. The CompuCycle project originated in Canada, where a series of public computer collection events were held on Vancouver Island in 2001 and 2002– the first of their kind. At each event a 53ft van was filled, and sent to a recycler who guaranteed ethical recycling. A number of working machines were also collected for donation to Third World countries."

CompuCycle, as it was called, was going to be divided into a non-profit and profit arm. Anyhow WEEE has now happened and is starting to work. UK residents currently throw away enough WEEE every year to fill new Wembley six times.

It’s estimated that around 150 million small electrical products are bought each year in the UK for Christmas - new toys, gadgets, power tools and kitchen appliances - and most will end up in the landfill once they have fulfilled their useful life - some even before then.

My Zero Waste blog (see here) writes:

Everything from kettles, razors, torches, drills, cameras and Christmas tree lights fall under WEEE. I was astonished to learn that a staggering 500 tonnes of Christmas lights alone are discarded in the UK over the holiday season.

WEEE consists of anything with a plug, removable or internal batteries. For more information see our WEEE article. You’ll learn about the crossed out wheelie bin symbol and the reasons why our WEEE should not be put into landfill.if you fancy something light hearted to help you remember things, why not have a go at the ReGeneration game!

On average every Gloucestershire home has at least 3 old broken or unwanted small electrical items such as hair dryers, kettles or old mobile phones.

Regardless of where you live, the message is to dispose of WEEE responsibly either at the local Household Recycling Centre or take it to stores offering a take back scheme. Check out Recycle Now’s “Don’t bin it, Bring it” site for more details.

To determine whether your item is WEEE or not, Recycle for Gloucestershire recommend asking these simple questions…

• Does it have a plug?
• Does it use batteries?
• Does it need charging?
• Does it have the crossed-out wheelie bin logo on it?

If you can answer “YES” to any of the above, you can recycle it with WEEE facilities.

Locally our nearest site fopr disposal is the Recycling Centre at Horsley.

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