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An introduction to WERCS and your WEEE responsibilities


Every year, an estimated 2 million tonnes of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) items are discarded by householders and companies in the UK. WEEE includes most products that have a plug or need a battery.

Recycling of WEEE is a specialist part of the waste and recycling industry. It is a rapidly growing sub-sector due largely to the implementation of the original WEEE Directive in the UK by the WEEE Regulations 2006.

With that came the associated requirements  for the recovery, reuse, recycling and treatment of WEEE.

WERCS is a leading Producer Compliance Scheme that works with EEE manufacturers to help discharge producers’ WEEE recovery responsibilities in the UK.

Their services are both relevant and potentially very useful to many ECA Members. The Q&A with WERCS below outlines what they do, and how it can benefit ECA Members.

Who are WERCS, and what do you do?

WERCS is a leading Producer Compliance Scheme (PCS) that works with electrical and electronic manufacturers to help discharge producers’ WEEE recovery responsibilities in the UK. We are part of the Waste Experts group of companies. Waste experts have a dedicated WEEE treatment in Huddersfield with a fleet of over a dozen vehicles who can serve the whole of the UK.

We know how to recover lamps, but we also remove control panels and switches, along with infrastructure such as HVAC.

How can we find out about recycling options for various WEEE types?

WERCS can collect and treat all 14 categories of WEEE. This includes everything from HVAC equipment through to sockets and Solar Panels.

You can also contact the producer compliance scheme that looks after the manufacturer of the WEEE in question - you can find out which scheme the manufacturer is registered with by going to this website and searching for the manufacturer on the EEE producer register.

One caveat though. If the product was originally installed before 13th August 2005 and the product is being replaced for a ‘like for like’ product (e.g. light fitting for light fitting) the manufacturer of the product being installed should recycle the old product that has been removed.

Is all WEEE recoverable in some way, or do some types still have to go to landfill?

UK law states that all WEEE being treated at an approved, authorised treatment facility must meet legal recovery and recycling targets stated at this website.

Waste Experts use best in class treatment techniques to ensure we exceed these legal targets and send zero* waste to landfill.

*some residual materials are left during the recycling process which may end up in landfill, including dust and fines.

Are some types of WEEE much easier (or harder) to recover than others?

With our bespoke collection containers and varied fleet of vehicles we can collect any WEEE stream safely and compliantly.

Our potential clients are asking how we can support the ‘circular economy’. What can you do that will help us to show them we are engaging in this?

We can issue reports for all the WEEE we collect and show how much of the waste has been recycled and put back into the supply chain, as well as show carbon saving from recycling the waste rather than sending it to landfill.

Currently, every WEEE collection should be accompanied by a waste transfer note, to be kept by the producer of the waste for a minimum of 3 years if classed as non-hazardous WEEE or 4 years if hazardous.

Due to the presence of POPs however (see below), most WEEE is now classified as hazardous and needs a hazardous waste consignment note (HWCN) and notification to the Environment Agency.

This type of information can be useful for relaying to procurers who are looking for environmentally aware contractors.

POPs are Persistent Organic Pollutants (or ‘forever chemicals’ since they do not break down naturally) found in plastics such as BFRs (Brominated Flame Retardants). All WEEE plastics must now go through special testing and if POPs are found, the plastics must go for high temperature incineration to destroy the POPs. This is done through Waste to Energy routes.

Can we get any income for recovering certain types of WEEE?

Regrettably, the short answer is no. POPs laws mean that the treatment of UK WEEE, and especially WEEE plastics, has greatly increased the cost of WEEE testing and treatment. Beyond any contractual revenue you might get from your client, the opportunity for obtaining further income from recovering WEEE is generally nonexistent, in fact it costs to treat waste.

One of our clients is keen for us to recycle the WEEE we remove from their premises. We’d like to offer this facility to them but before we respond, we’d like to know what practical help you can provide.

WERCS can support any size of project, from a small office re-lamp to a full factory refit.

Project work is our bread and butter. We can provide compliant containers at the start of the project, exchange them when full, and do a final uplift when and where you need it. Issuing all the documentation required for each movement and ensuring your customer is fulfilling their legal duty of care and treating their waste to the highest standard to recover as much of the material as possible to be put back into the supply chain.

Are the collection arrangements different for non-lighting WEEE from domestic customers, compared to commercial?

Yes! Domestic customers are allowed to take their WEEE to their local civic amenity sites for recovery/recycling, whereas commercial waste cannot be accepted by these sites. Commercial WEEE must be treated at an authorised treatment facility.

With the rise of green technology like solar, EV and battery storage, how can you support the recycling of early adopting customers products, or the recovery of their key materials?

Waste experts aims to be at the forefront of the recycling industry, engaging with manufacturers of new technologies to ensure their products are recyclable at end of life and also making sure we can treat their products to the highest standards.

WERCS works with stakeholders including the Environment Agency to pave the way for recycling new technologies.

Not only is our plant an approved authorised treatment facility but we are also an approved battery treatment operator, so we can treat batteries as well as WEEE.