UK not doing enough to tackle WEEE
The country needs to be doing more to address the issue of waste electrical and electronic equipment, according to an online survey carried out by UNTHA UK.
In a question posed as part of UNTHA’s monthly poll, a staggering 100% of respondents said that the UK is not doing enough to tackle WEEE.
The findings are perhaps unsurprising, believes Managing Director Chris Oldfield, although he didn’t expect the results to be quite so notable.
“The amount of WEEE produced globally reached approximately 48.1 million tonnes last year, and industry experts predict this figure will reach 50 million tonnes before the end of the decade,” explains Chris. “This is simply unacceptable.”
“It’s also disheartening to see that the UK is in the top five ‘per capita’ producers of WEEE. That’s not to say that, as a nation, we haven’t made progress in our handling of such ‘waste’ materials. We are seeing a growing acknowledgment for the potential hazardous nature of this waste stream, sophisticated processes to salvage precious metals are gradually being adopted domestically, and in many instances efforts are being made to repair, reuse and recycle seemingly redundant equipment.
“But this is not enough. We very much have a worldwide e-waste problem on our hands, driven largely by the increased ‘consumption’ of gadgets and technology, and the ‘throwaway’ mindset that we have come to adopt. So if WEEE quantities continue to rise, we must ramp up our collective efforts too.”
So where should the UK turn next? “‘Take back and treatment’ systems have had some success in the UK,” explains Chris. “But there aren’t enough of such initiatives, and a number of businesses and consumers still don’t realise the importance of efficient waste collection.
“Unfortunately the sector also suffers from some less scrupulous companies who fail to treat WEEE appropriately.
“Tackling WEEE in a safe and efficient manner is therefore no mean feat. I’d like to see:
- The UK launch a national communications campaign regarding what to do with WEEE when it is no longer of interest or use in the home or workplace. It can be hard to know what to do, where to take WEEE, and why hierarchical compliance is so important.
- Organisations like ours – who have valuable WEEE knowledge to share – empowering others to better handle WEEE. It is a complex field but there are ways to safely, responsibly and cost-effectively process such materials.
- The Government and the Environment Agency better policing the processing of such materials. Legislation drives innovation and penalties drive compliance!”
UNTHA UK is currently in the process of updating its WEEE factsheet for 2015. Please monitor our web news page or Twitter feed to download a copy as soon as it is launched. If you are a WEEE handler or recycler, or you would like to develop your own in-house system for processing WEEE, talk to one of our shredder consultants about the WEEE shredders in our range. You can contact us on 0845 450 5388, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete our short enquiry form.