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UK Environmental and Recycling Legislation



Hazardous Waste: Anything removed by a licensed waste carrier that contains hazardous components above a threshold and is in the “List of Wastes”, Annex I of the Hazardous Waste Regulations (2005) or has the properties listed in Annex II and Annex III of the Regulations. Also see this page for further definitions of Hazardous Waste


Waste ICT goods deemed hazardous include: All Computer Monitors (TFT & CRT), Laptops, scanners, Universal Power Supplies, photocopiers, all-in-one printers. White Goods Deemed hazardous include: All forms of Televisions, fridges and freezers, Air conditioning equipment. Condition and functionality of these goods is irrespective.


WEEE: Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, as derived from the UK WEEE Regulations (referred to in the legislation as the directive).


List of Wastes (LOW): EWC: European Waste Catalogue, defining types of wastes from all forms of industry and households. Each type of waste is defined by a six digit number, broken down into 3 groups of 2. An asterisk to the right of the number defined the waste as being hazardous. e.g.: Computer Monitors= 16 02 14* . Note that the term Absolute Hazardous applies in that there is not a similar form of electronic waste that lacks the hazardous materials.


Prior to Disposal (The Holder of the Waste)


The Duty of Care extends to the holder of wastes (the Transferor), prior to, during and after transfer to another party. In order to comply with the Duty of Care, the holder of the waste is required to discharge his/ her duty by carrying out due diligence in the selection of a suitably qualified person (Transferor) to remove the waste.


The legal framework, known as the Framework Directive provides a concise definition of waste as being:


“Any substance or object which the producer (Transferor) or the person in possession of it discards or intends or is required to discard”


By it’s very virtue, equipment that is therefore deemed as no longer being “fit for purpose” should be considered waste. This would in theory extend to include electronic equipment that still functions but does not meet a required standard of operation for the given task.


However, the waste Heriarchy should be applied to such items in that the holder should have considered the re-use or re-purposing of the equipment prior to it’s disposal.


The Transfer:


The Duty of Care (Environmental Proetction Act 1991) remains with the holder of the waste until the equipment (IT etc) has been either re-purposed or finally disposed of (recycled). This extends to wastes exported outside the UK and extends to complying with international laws and treaties (Basel Convention), except where correctly re-purposed for export (note the use of the term correctly)- however, even then, import laws are being revised (late 2012) due to the ease with which working equipment beyond suitable re-use is entering areas such as the African Sub Continent.


In discharging the Duty of Care, the holder of the waste is required to perform due diligence by ensuring that the person taking away the waste is competent to do so (An Upper Tier Waste Carrier Licence)- This page shows a standard Upper Tier Licence. However, the duty of the Transferor extends beyond the transfer and (with emphasis upon maintenance of accreditation to ISO 14001, BS8555 and EMAS) should include ensuring that the place to which the waste (electronics) is being transported holds suitable competency to accept the waste. As with the transfer of any controlled wastes, a waste transfer note (example here) should be available and signed by both parties.


In discharging the Duty of Care, the holder of the waste should be aware of the Hazardous Waste regulations (2005) which require the provision of a Hazardous Waste Consignment note (example here), signed by both the holder (Consignee) and Carrier (Consingor) for any hazardous wastes in the load. The Hazardous Waste transfer note should contain details of the transfer, descriptions of the waste and details of where the waste will be taken to (Part E Certificate). It must be signed, dated and the time of the transfer noted. In order to discharge his/ her duty, the holder of the waste must retain a copy of the note at the time of transfer and receive a signed Part E certificate from the place that accepts the waste for final disposal. A Hazardous Waste Transfer note must include a Consignment note number, which contains the Premises Code. This code is “Exempt” for premises/ buildings that produce less than 500kgs per year. However, where you produce more than 500kgs in any 12 month period, you must register your premises with the Environment Agency and use a Hazardous Waste Producer licence number in the place of "exempt".


Managing Competency for Waste Electronic Treatment:


Competent management of Waste electronics both extends beyond the provision of a suitable licence (T11, Permit) and is devolved into repair and recovery processes.


T11 exemption: A T11 exempt facility is licensed for the repair and refurbishment of waste electrical and electronic equipment. It may not accept Fluorescent tubes, carry out the crushing, shredding, shearing, baling or any other form of mechanical recovery operation as part of it’s activities.


Permitted Facility: Operates under Standard Permit, rules 23 (2008), facilitating the mechanical recovery of wastes, repair, refurbishment, segregation, treatment of hazardous wastes (excluding Ozone Depleting substances). Operators of a permitted facility must be deemed Competent to do so. This is achieved through obtaining an Operator Competency Certificate or employing a Certified Technical Competent person for eight hours per week. Competent persons are required to sit an exam every two years to maintain the qualification. Stringent rules, including Planning approval at County, permitted activities and environmental monitoring procedures apply to such Permitted facilities.


Both types of facility are required to demonstrate the application of the waste hierarchy, employing re-use/ re-purposing of the waste electronics. Where this is not applicable, recycling and recovery from the waste must be employed.