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Most e-waste is now classed as hazardous under EA’s new POPs directive
The Environmental Agency (EA) is a government department whose regulations and services help to keep our spaces sustainable for both people and wildlife. Established in 1996, the organization has released many regulations around waste management in the UK and how companies deal with their Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).
Recently, The EA updated their policies on what WEEE must be classified as and how businesses must dispose of it. These changes will help reduce the harmful persistent organic pollutants (POPs) released and improve the process they are dealt with.
Thereby helping to reduce the negative impact to our environment.
Why are POPs in WEEE dangerous?
The hazardous materials in improperly disposed of WEEE can emit into the earth and cause immense damage. Because these chemicals can travel through the air and water, the effects can spread over large distances and take centuries to degrade. These POPs can then be digested by animals, causing diseases or even abnormalities which can lead to death.
Not only this, but these effects can be passed onto people:
‘Naturally, what impacts animals and crops, also impact humans. In people, the exposure to and indirect consumption of POPs may lead to reproductive, developmental, behavioral, neurologic, endocrine, and immunologic adverse health effects.’ – Green and Growing
Because of these issues, and that a high proportion of WEEE waste contains POP substances, the EA has updated regulations to limit the amount released into our planet.
What the updated regulation means
‘If the levels of hazardous substances or POPs are over a certain amount the item will be classified as hazardous or POPs waste. If your WEEE is POPs waste you cannot reuse or recycle it.’ – The Environmental Agency
The updated WEEE regulation now requires most WEEE to be classified as containing POPs or hazardous by default unless proven otherwise. Elements such as circuit boards from computing devices, plastic casings, cables, and more must be ‘destroyed or irreversibly transformed’. This means that WEEE which wasn’t considered hazardous before now is. And it needs to be dealt with correctly.
Why will this affect businesses?
As part of GDPR law, businesses that hold client and consumer data must have proper disposal systems in place for devices containing sensitive data. As a result, the correct disposal of these products and making sure these processes are EA regulation-compliant, falls to these businesses.
Most companies will have an ITAD company conduct these services under strict operations. This is undoubtedly the best way to ensure your assets are disposed of in accordance with GDPR law, but will they be compliant with the updated WEEE regulation?
The only way to be sure of this is through the accreditations and certificates held by a WEEE recycler, which provide evidence their operations have been audited, checked, and passed by governing bodies.
How we can help.
S2S are one of these companies that can help with GDPR and EA compliance. With over 30 years of experience in WEEE recycling and numerous accreditations, we are dedicated to ensuring our clients are compliant with laws and regulations.
Here at S2S, we are always striving to make our services and operations as safe for the environment as possible, with our zero-to-landfill policy. With this policy, we do our bit to reduce the amount of electronic waste and POPs which are left to emit into our atmosphere.
Want to find out how we can help you be compliant when it comes to WEEE disposal? Talk to our recycling experts.