Zero Waste Scotland: Re-use of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment from Household Waste Recycling Centres

1st April 2014

This report provides a summary of the opportunities to maximise the re-use of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) products disposed of at Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) sites in Scotland.  

Key findings
The trials have resulted in commitments giving 770,000 people, almost 15% of Scotland’s population, the option to re-use their unwanted electrical items.

Overview

Overview

Currently only 7% of WEEE separately collected at HWRCs is re-used*. However, it is estimated that approximately 23% could be re-used with only a small amount of repair. This represents a significant opportunity to increase the re-use of WEEE and the benefits it brings.

It is generally accepted that re-use contributes to resource efficiency by extending the life of a product. This results in a reduced demand for the manufacture of new products, and as such, reduces the burden on raw material extraction for all the constituent materials (such as metal, glass and plastic) that make up electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). There are also social and financial benefits to increasing WEEE re-use, such as job creation and training opportunities.

This project trialled different methods of collecting WEEE for re-use from HWRCs in order to identify the best system for optimising re-use.

*Or approximately 40,650 tonnes. Data accessed from the Environment Agency website on October 2013. 

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Conclusions

Conclusions

The success of introducing a re-use system at HWRCs is largely dependent on the active support of all parties involved. The majority of obstacles in the trials were overcome through consistent communication and support amongst all parties:

  • Public – Public participation and support of any re-use service is important to ensure they make items available for re-use. It also helps ensure items are stored, transported and handled in a way that optimises their potential for re-use;
  • Councils – It is important that on-site staff actively seek out goods for re-use, and embrace the concept of using set-aside areas and containers to overcome the first hurdle of making material available for the re-use organisations;
  • Re-use organisations – They must work closely with the councils to build relationships at site level, and to work around established collection patterns in order to maximise the yields from HWRCs; and
  • The Compliance Scheme – It is important for an organisation such a Compliance Scheme to take on the role of a service manager. This involves co-ordinating re-use organisations, councils, and recycling companies to ensure services are provided seamlessly. The compliance scheme effectively became the facilities manager for each trial/service, taking an overview of where changes were required and amending them when required.

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Where next?

Want to know more about re-use and recycling in sustainable electricals? Take a look at our reports, guides, tools and case studies for further information:

Reports >>
Guides >>
Tools >>
Case studies >>