Recycling Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
Ireland, like the rest of Europe, faces a growing challenge in dealing with waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Legislation aims to:
- Ensure that old electrical and electronic equipment is recycled or reused rather than dumped in landfill sites
- Encourage better design of electrical and electronic products so they can be recycled easily and more efficiently
The rules that apply are set out in SI 340 Waste Management (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Regulations 2005, and in the European Commission’s revised Directive 2012/19/EU, which took effect on 14 February 2014.
What must retailers do about WEEE?
- Register as a producer of WEEE
- Take back your old electrical equipment free of charge when you buy new goods
- Ensure you are aware of the take-back options they offer, and other ways to dispose of your old electrical and electronic equipment (for example, by providing leaflets or signs at the point of sale)
- Store waste electrical products properly and transport them safely to an approved collection facility
There is more detail on these obligations below.
What equipment can I take back?
- Retailers must take back your old electrical and electronic equipment in store for free on a one-for-one, like-for-like basis. This means the old product must be of the same type or have the same purpose as the new item purchased.
- Retailers in large stores (with an electrical-goods sales area greater than 400 square metres) must accept your small appliances (less than 25 cm high) for recycling without insisting you buy anything.
- You can deposit certain types of waste batteries at various shops for free (see ‘How should I dispose of batteries and contaminated waste?’ below).
What if I want something delivered to my home?
- If you are having something delivered to your home, you can have the old item collected at the same time for no extra cost on the same one-for-one, like-for-like basis.
- The retailer cannot charge for collecting the waste equipment (although they can charge a delivery fee for the new item).
- Retailers must give 24 hours’ notice of delivery and you must have the old item ready for collection and disconnected from all electrical, gas or water systems (as appropriate).
- If a retailer has not given 24 hours’ notice of delivery and an old appliance is not ready for collection, they must return to collect it within 15 days.
- If you do not wish to use the free collection service when your new equipment is delivered, then you can return your old item to the shop at any time.
Who pays for recycling WEEE?
Producers of electrical and electronic goods fund the recycling of WEEE. They pay fees in proportion to their current market share.
What are Environmental Management Costs?
- Visible Environmental Management Costs (vEMCs) are standardised charges added to the price of certain goods to help to pay for the costs of recycling. The rate charged is approved by the WEEE Register Society Limited, which is an industry-based but independently managed national registration body.
- You will see a vEMC on the price display on all refrigeration units, large household appliances, TVs larger than 73cm, gas discharge lamps and LEDs. The retail price of the item includes the vEMC and the price display must include the following wording: ‘Included in this price is a contribution to recycling costs of (amount of contribution)’. Your invoice, receipt or docket must state: ‘Price of electrical items includes a contribution to recycling costs’.
- The vEMC charges fund the two collective compliance schemes operating in Ireland: WEEE Ireland and the European Recycling Platform. These schemes ensure that all household WEEE is handled without causing harm to the environment when it is returned to retailers or deposited at landfill sites or civic amenity sites.
The vEMCs displayed on the goods you buy cannot exceed the actual costs of recycling. The WEEE Register has verified and issued a schedule of vEMCs (pdf) to be displayed.
- For more information on EMCs, go to the WEEE Register.
How should I dispose of batteries and contaminated waste?
Batteries should be disposed of carefully and not sent to landfill because they are classed as hazardous waste. According to WEEE legislation, retailers only need to take batteries which are contained within electrical or electronic equipment.
You can deposit waste batteries free of charge at:
- Any local authority civic amenity site
- Any shop selling the same type of battery
Retailers must take back batteries of a type they supply, even if you did not get the batteries from them. You do not have to buy anything from the shop when you are depositing waste batteries.
But retailers do not have to take back batteries of a type they do not supply. For example, they do not have to take back a car battery if they only sell batteries suitable for a torch or remote control.
Retailers are not obliged to accept contaminated waste that would present a health and safety risk to their staff, such as leaking batteries.
Where to apply
For further information with regard to EMCs you should contact the WEEE Register as follows: