|WEEE and ROHS Directives|
Two major environmental issues are raised by the increasing use of electrical goods – the use of energy to produce them and operate them and also their end of life disposal. Hence the introduction of European legislation to help combat the waste problem and encourage manufacturers to design and produce longer-lasting, more energy efficient appliances. The most prominent and relevant directive for dealing with the disposal of household appliances is the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) and has been introduced in most European countries. In the UK it was introduced in July 2007 after many years of consultation with interested parties.
Governments are required to ensure systems are in place to collect discarded items. Producers must assume financial responsibility for the cost of recycling or disposal of their goods and for meeting targets on recovery, re-use and recycling including historical waste. Most retailers now offer collection of old appliances when replacing them with new ones. Choose a retailer who offers this service.
The products that will be affected by the WEEE directive are:
- Large household appliances
- Small household appliances (incl. clocks and scales etc)
- It and telecommunication equipment
- Brown goods - tv/hi-fi/video recorders etc
- Lighting equipment
- Electrical and electronic tools , e/g/ drills/ lawnmowers/sewing machines
- Toys and leisure games, e.g. train sets/ video games
- Medical equipment systems
- Monitoring and control equipment, e.g. thermostats, control panels
- Automatic dispensers, e.g. drinks machines
Be sure to dispose of any of the above appliances responsibly and conscientiously, we all have a duty to minimise our waste impact on the environment.
THE ROHS DIRECTIVE
This directive is designed to restrict the use of certain substances in the production process, so that harmful toxic pollution is minimised and recycling of products made easier. It is your responsibility to ensure that the goods you make, supply or sell are compliant.
BANNED/ RESTRICTED MATERIALS
- Lead including standard solder,
- Cadmium, mercury,
- Hexavalent Chromium,
- Brominated Flame retardants PBB and PBDE
Alternative substances must be found for these.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE DIRECTIVES
You will have your own opinion on what effect these Directives may have on you and on the wider environment but these are some of the implications to consider for the future.
- Producer responsibility : this means "intelligent" design from the outset, better use of materials and resources and greener, cleaner and more efficient manufacturing processes
- Manufacturers will also need to make provision for end of life disposal and recovery
- Reduction in the environmental impact of hazardous waste
- Restriction on the use of harmful materials and substances
- Products should in theory last longer; more durability
- Products should enable easier repair
- Replacement parts should be available for longer, the current average of 10 years is not considered long enough.
- Due to the above products may increase in price in the short term
- Consumers may value their products more if they have cost more initially and repair more frequently and keep them longer.
- Rogue non-complying manufacturers may see their products banned in Europe.
- Less product going to landfill, a reduction in the "throwaway society" which are two of the main drivers behind the directives and the "sustainable development" debate.
Both Directives can be read in full and downloaded from the European Union's website; www.europa.eu.