Waste electrical and electronic equipment
Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is one of the fastest growing waste streams in Europe, increasing by between 3 and 5% every year. It covers a vast variety of equipment, including lamps, small household appliances such as toasters and hair dryers, electronic devices such as mobile phones and computers, TVs, games consoles and set-top boxes, and laundry and cooling equipment.
Without proper treatment, WEEE poses considerable risks to the environment and to human health due to the diverse range of potentially hazardous substances used in electrical and electronic appliances. WEEE also contains high-value materials such as rare earths and precious metals which would be lost without the recycling of WEEE.
The EU WEEE Directive was introduced to protect the environment and human health through stipulating waste treatment, recycling and resource recovery as well as the introduction of collection schemes to facilitate the recovery of WEEE from households.
Alongside the revised WEEE Directive, a series of standards and technical specifications are being developed to further the adoption of best practice in reuse, recycling and material recovery operations for WEEE. Standards cover requirements for the collection, logistics and treatment of specific types of equipment and for their depollution from toxic substances.