AMDEA > Industry Issues > Recycling Electricals

Recycling Electricals

Our members’ appliances fall under the general title of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). When the appliances reach the end of their useful lives, they are termed used electrical and electronic equipment (UEEE), and when disposed of they become waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

Disposal of WEEE is covered by the UK/ European Union’s WEEE Directive. This was first introduced into UK law in 2007 by the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulations 2006.  The current UK regulations date from 2013 and are due for review. The aim of the legislation is to reduce the amount of electrical and electronic waste and to encourage everyone to reuse, recycle and recover end of life electricals.

Our members provide information on how to dismantle and dispose of their products when they come to the end of their life, and mark them accordingly. They finance the cost of treating and recovering the types of products that they produce through registered compliance schemes.

Large domestic appliances which include fridge freezers, washing machines and dishwashers account for over 60% of the total WEEE collected by tonnage. Small appliances such as vacuum cleaners, hairdryers and toasters account for a further 7%.

WEEE is divided into various waste streams for safe disposal and, increasingly, to be recycled into new products. Pioneering work undertaken by the Waste & Resource Action Plan (WRAP) has demonstrated that even shredded fridge waste can be recycled into new panels. It is expected that recycling will account for an ever-larger proportion of the waste stream.

Our members’ appliances also make a positive impact on reducing other waste – for example efficient modern appliances reduce the amount of water used for laundry and dish washing. Refrigeration and freezing prolongs the life of foodstuffs thereby also reducing waste.

In-sink food waste disposers can help to generate new energy as they grind waste food into minute particles, so that it can be transported, via the sewers, to waste processing stations and turned into ‘green energy’ through anaerobic digestion.

AMDEA is a founder member of the Joint Trade Association Group (Producer Responsibility) – 10 Trade Associations working with three Producer Compliance Schemes to improve the UK WEEE system.

The 10 Trade Associations are: AMDEA: Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances; BEAMA: (originally an acronym for the British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers’ Association); BIPBA: British and Irish Portable Batteries Association; BHETA: British Home Enhancement Trade Association; BTHA: British Toys and Hobbies Association; Make UK, the Manufacturers’ organisation; Gambica: (originally an acronym for the Group of Association of Manufacturers of British, Instruments, Control and Automation); techUK: (The trade association for the Information and Communication Technology and Consumer Electronics sectors); LIA: Lighting Industry Association; and PETMA: Portable Electrical Tool Manufacturers’ Association

As the JTA is not a legal entity, a separate company, Joint Trade Associations (Contracts) Limited (JTAC), was formed for the express purposes of entering into contracts with third-party organisations for services such as the Compliance Fee administration. The Directors and Company Secretary of JTAC are senior representatives of AMDEA, BEAMA, LIA and techUK.

In 2020, Material Focus launched the UK’s latest Recycle Your Electricals campaign, in response to waste electricals being one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world and the UK, losing valuable materials forever to landfill and incineration. 

The nationwide campaign Recycle Your Electricals is calling on households to stop throwing away and hoarding their unwanted small old electricals – and start reusing and recycling them.

Launched by Material Focus, formerly known as the WEEE Fund, the not-for-profit is funded by producers of electrical appliances. The Recycle Your Electricals campaign is focused on three key elements to influence change: insights and research; funding to make it easier to recycle; and communications and behaviour change. 

Material Focus is funding technical research on the barriers to reusing and recycling old electricals. The insights from this research aim to identify new and innovative approaches to recycling.

By working with a number of partners to expand the number and type of collection points, Material Focus will invest to make it easier for everyone to reuse and recycle their old electricals.

The communications and behaviour change campaign will inspire people to change their behaviour by revealing the hidden value of the materials in our old electricals, and make it easier for people to know how to recycle them. 

For more information on the campaign, visit https://www.recycleyourelectricals.org.uk/.