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 European Union’s WEEE Directive. This was introduced into UK law in 2007 by the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulations 2006. The aim of the Directive is to reduce the amount of electrical and electronic
waste and to encourage everyone to reuse, recycle and recover it.
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.
In 2011 large domestic appliances such as fridge freezers, washing machines and dishwashers accounted for 29% of the total WEEE collected by tonnage. Small appliances such as vacuum cleaners, hairdryers and toasters accounted for a further 6%. Thus, in total, domestic appliances accounted for approximately one third of all WEEE collected.
The 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 can 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 (not to mention the health aspects).
In-sink food waste disposers can even 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.