WEEE need to do more

Many of us in technology are hoarders – the idea of throwing something away is somewhat strange as you never know when this item or that might be useful once more. Even when a piece of kit is broken, you never know what spares you could get from it further down the line. Consequently, IT departments are graveyards, a historical journal of the ever evolving technology utilised over the years, quietly gathering dust…

This is never more apparent than when a company (like PacSol) is preparing for an office move – the stuff you find buried in boxes that was kept ‘just in case’. For example, there are no laptops / notebooks within our company that have a PCMCIA slot, probably not for nearly a decade. Yet there we were, holding two (brand new) PCMCIA Netgear wireless adaptors and another PCMCIA SCSI interface… because you never know! The list went on, just how many power cables does one company need???

On the one hand, IT departments are inadvertently helping prevent wastage and the entry into the environment (say through landfill) of this old equipment and the toxic elements they contain. However, really this old equipment has to be stripped, separated and the raw materials returned into the global resource pool. The materials used within the production of this equipment are finite and this planet just cannot sustain the current continued growth  / demand for equipment without recycling and resource reclamation.

Earth overshoot day logo

We highlighted Earth Overshoot Day last year in our blog, marking “the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year”, which fell in 2020 on August 22nd.

In 2021, Earth Overshoot Day moved forward to July 29th.

Whether a company, group, household or individual, it could not be more apparent today that we all need to ensure anything we own or use can either be reused, effectively repaired or fully recycled. In the case of electrical equipment, this is where WEEE (we) the people, need to choose wisely.

As it happens, in the UK, ‘Recycle Week’ falls between 20th – 26th September this year. For the last 18 years, this annual event has been  “where retailers, brands, waste management companies, trade associations, governments and the media come together to achieve one goal: to galvanise the public into recycling more of the right things, more often.”

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations (2013) became law in the UK on 1 January 2014 and essentially require businesses to:

  • Minimise waste arising from their electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) products and promote their reuse
  • Ensure the waste products are treated correctly and meet recovery and recycling targets for the waste materials
  • Design products by reducing material use and enhancing reusability and recyclability

The recovery of WEEE and the reclamation of resources from it is a growing sector of the economy with many options available even to businesses to have old equipment collected and legally processed for free. 

  • Manufacturers run ‘take-back’ schemes, offering viable discounts on their newer products when an old version is surrendered in exchange.
  • Householders should either:
    • Take items to the nearest household waste recycling or civic amenity centre
    • Contact the local authority to arrange for collection
    • When purchasing a new electrical item, arrange with the retailer to collect the old one
  • Businesses should look to engage an accredited WEEE company who will collect and process the items.

There is a significant, growing ‘pile’ of WEEE items at the PacSol office as we bravely ‘let go’ of the precious hoard and accept that there really is no way for us to viably reuse the equipment. We will be ensuring that ALL of the items are sent to be recycled and therefore as much of the raw material is reclaimed as possible, ensuring everything that can is placed back into the manufacturing cycle to reduce net new material usage.

Planet Earth watercolour image

It is clear that we all – from the individual to global enterprise – need to do more to stem the tide of environmental destruction and restore a balance to resource usage. So next time you go to dispose of any equipment, please take the time to either reuse it or dispose of the item responsibly. 

Planet Earth will thank you.


Toby Gilbertson Customer Services Manager

Toby Gilbertson, Customer Services Manager. August 2021.

#PacSolUK #PlanetEarth #EarthOverShootDay #Environment #WEEE

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