The directive aims to minimise the impact of electrical goods on the environment by reducing the amount of equipment going to landfill.
The directive affects every organisation and business that uses electrical equipment in the workplace, yet many small businesses are unaware of the legislation. The steps below from SmallBusiness.co.uk and Tony Roberts, founder of registered charity Computer Aid International, will help your business meets its legal requirements.
Choose an employee to take charge of compliance
It makes sense to make one person responsible for all obsolete equipment – the easier it is to track each piece of equipment, the easier it will be to prove compliance if required.
Make sure this person is aware of how WEEE legislation applies to your business.
Consider reuse instead of recycling
The WEEE directive places a high priority on reuse of whole appliances rather than recycling.
Research has shown that reusing a whole computer is 20 times more effective at saving energy than recycling. This is because of the huge amount of energy required for PC manufacture and breaking them down into their component parts.
Most PCs have not reached the end of their lives when firms get rid of them and could provide another four years of productive use if donated to a charity.
Any equipment purchased before 13 August 2005 is not eligible for producer take-back schemes
The recent updates to the Government’s guidance notes, published by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), clarify the fact that businesses have an obligation to finance the treatment of goods purchased before 13 August 2005 if new equipment is not replacing them. This can consume valuable time and money, so look around for the most cost-effective but compliant scheme.
Check collection/disposal services for approved authorised treatment facility (AATF) status
Without the AATF accreditation, there is no guarantee that your equipment will be disposed of in a compliant manner.
Make sure data is professionally wiped from hard drives
The last thing any company wants is for sensitive data to fall into the wrong hands. Always get documentation from your recycle/reuse vendor.
Ensure that you have written confirmation of the total amount (in tonnes) of equipment that has been disposed of and proof that it has been dealt with by an AATF. It’s also a good idea to get proof of data destruction for all machines.
Check small print when buying new equipment
Some producers or retailers may levy a charge at point of sale to cover the cost of collection, treatment and recovery of the goods when you are finished with them. If you plan to make alternative arrangements then ask for these charges to be removed.
Avoid the worst case scenario
If you fail to comply with the directive you could face a penalty in the shape of a hefty fine or even imprisonment.
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