The EA publishes new guidance on classifying WEEE Waste

30 June 2020

The Environment Agency (EA) has recently published new guidance on how to identify and dispose of waste containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

This guidance has been introduced following an industry investigation into the effects of POPs waste on the environment, which has resulted in the requirement that most household waste and electronic equipment (WEEE) must now be classified as waste containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs) or hazardous waste.

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What is Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) waste?

Persistent organic pollutants are organic compounds that are resistant to environmental degradation through chemical, biological, and photolytic processes. Because of their persistence, POPs bioaccumulate with potential adverse impacts on human health and the environment.

Further guidance on the types of wastes that contain POPs and on Classifying WEEE waste can be found here, however items that could contain POPs include, televisions, computer monitors, items containing circuit boards, Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) and other items of small mixed WEEE.

How has treatment of WEEE waste changed?

Previously, many WEEE plastics containing POPs and other chemicals could have been treated by recycling or possibly reuse.

However, now under European law, any POPs in waste plastic must be destroyed or irreversibly transformed, therefore no waste which may contain POPs can be recycled, transferred to another person for recycling or exported for recycling.

These changes came into effect last year however operators were given time to prepare for the changes through a Regulatory Position Statement (RPS) that was issued in December 2019 on the topic. This confirmed that those who do not operate in accordance with the new guidance will not be penalised until 31 July 2020, providing that current guidance is complied with. ( 7/01/2020).

On the 8th June 2020 EA guidance was updated to reflect the changes and provide guidance on classification of this waste type.

What WEEE wastes are affected?

Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) manufactured after 1 January 2009, is much less likely to contain PBDE POPs. Their use should have stopped for products selling in Europe. However POPs have been found in some equipment manufactured years after this date.

The Environment Agency guidance states ‘that it is your responsibility to know if your waste material contains POPS’ and indicates a number of ways of finding this information out, such as contacting the manufacturer. It also states that ‘if you’ve assessed your waste and are still not sure if an item is hazardous or POPs waste, you should treat it as hazardous and POPs waste as a precaution’.

The above means that more careful consideration is needed when dealing with the storage and disposal of WEEE Waste, to ensure this is dealt with in line with the latest guidance. The costs of disposing of WEEE and wastes which contain POPS could also be impacted as there are more limited options for treating and disposing of this type of waste.

What do you need to do if you have WEEE or POPs waste?

Zest Recycle have the expertise and knowledge to handle your WEEE waste compliantly and in line with the latest regulations. Working with our carefully selected supply chain partners we will identify the correct classification and treatment for you waste electronic equipment so you can rest assured your waste is being handled safely and compliantly.

In summary:

  • The EA has updated its guidance on classifying WEEE waste taking into consideration new rules on treating and disposing of POPs waste.
  • This means that certain items of WEEE wastes now need to be treated as Hazardous Waste or POPs waste.
  • The types of WEEE waste affected that could contain POPs include, televisions, computer monitors, items containing circuit boards, Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) and other items of small mixed WEEE.
  • You can rely on the expertise and knowledge of Zest Recycle to ensure your WEEE waste is being handled safely, securely and in line with current guidance

If you have any WEEE waste requirements or questions about the new guidance contact a member of our team today.


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