Monday, September 28, 2009


Where do we bin the box?
Posted: 28 Sep 2009 01:00 AM PDT

2012 is almost here, and the big switchover from analogue television signals to digital services is well and truly upon us. But with the majority of us choosing to upgrade our TV sets, what will happen to the masses of old and outdated equipment? Are we set for a landfill explosion? And where do the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations come into the equation?

Of course, it isn’t imperative that we throw out our old sets, there is the option of buying a Freeview digibox, which will convert existing televisions to receive digital broadcasts. But with new technologies offering sleeker designs, smaller footprints and larger screens the temptation to upgrade is more irresistible than ever. When you combine these facts with the additional benefit that new televisions often have Freeview built in, it would appear that there will be a lot of old sets ready for the scrapheap.

When you also consider that the UK creates approximately 1.8 million tonnes of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) each year, you can see why it is more important than ever to think very carefully about what we are going to do with the TVs we no longer want or need.

In Wales, the Environment Agency, which started its digital switchover on August 12th 2009, is quite clear that landfill is an unsustainable solution for discarding our waste. The agency has confirmed that the disposal of Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) televisions comes under the requirements of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations.

So what do we do?

Well, thankfully there are a few options:

Ask the retailer where you purchased your equipment if they will take your equipment back, or arrange for the retailer who delivers you new equipment to take away your old appliances.
 Remember that retailers, known as distributors in the UK WEEE regulations, of household electrical or electronic equipment (EEE) are legally obliged to ensure that WEEE from private households can be returned for recycling.

Take your old equipment to a local civic amenity site, or arrange for your Local Authority to collect larger appliances (bear in mind that some Local Authorities provide a free collection service and others charge).

Unfortunately, Local Authorities have no direct legal obligations under the WEEE Regulations to recycle your electrical waste, but they are incentivised by the Government to help, so it is worth checking out what your options are.

Another couple of things worth bearing in mind are that second-hand electrical and electronic equipment that is in good working order is not classified as waste and can be donated or sold to other organisations such as charities. However, broken electrical and electronic equipment that cannot be reused is classified as waste.

If you know the facts and what resources and options are available to you, there is every chance that the current 1.8 million tonnes of WEEE we produce each year won’t balloon in the lead up to 2012.

But as always, knowledge is power…

More information on your local area's facilities can be found by contacting your local council's Waste and Recycling departments directly.

The full public list of all the approved authorised treatment facilities (AATFs) in the UK for WEEE can be found on the Environment Agency's website:

The Environment Agency has also created a useful document called ‘What do the WEEE Regulations mean for householders?’ which can be found at:

For more information on the implications of the digital switchover, visit

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