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New legislation allows for electrical recycling scheme

July 5, 2007 at 10:57 am

New environmental legislation set to come into effect this July is likely to significantly improve the ability of both retailers and consumers to recycle electrical appliances. The Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulations (WEEE) require producers and sellers of such appliances to make some contribution to the costs of recycling electrical goods lying at local tips. This obligation applies not only to established high-street companies but also to Internet sellers.

However, a recent survey by the high-street chain, Comet, has revealed that the vast majority of people are unaware of the services available when it comes the recycling of electrical goods. Comet’s report revealed that only one person in fifty was aware of the services on offer. Indeed, most people had never recycled an electrical appliance and a troubling number of those polled confessed to thinking that such practices were impossible. A significant proportion of those surveyed blamed their local authority for failing to provide them with sufficient information on the matter.

Recognising the need to increase awareness among consumers of the recycling services on offer, Comet has announced a number of measures to deal with the situation. Just about any electrical appliance can be recycled under the WEEE guidelines. As such, Comet is set to expand its collection and recycling facilities to cover bigger appliances including fridges, washing machines and dishwashers. Although over three million such appliances have been recycled since these services began, many more make their way to tips and landfills each year and consequently contribute to environmental degradation.

With our consumption of electronic items on the increase, the need to provide recycling facilities for such goods is of essence. Roughly 70% of heavy (toxic) metals found in landfills come from discarded electrical appliances. In some instances, such waste is transported to third world countries for disposal. However, this offers neither a viable nor equitable long term solution. Furthermore, in certain circumstances, recycling is the only real option. The direct disposal of certain goods such as computers and mobile phones is banned in developed countries as they contain components constructed from toxic metals. Other common household appliances such as televisions and VCRs can release toxic chemicals such as dioxins, PCBs and radioactive isotopes into the environment. Only recycling provides a safe means of disposal for such goods.

Comet’s recycling services are available to all. You need not have purchased your appliance from them in order to qualify. However, you will need to pay a fee of £20 per item to be recycled. Given the dangers associated with the direct disposal of electrical appliances and equipment, it is a small price to pay.

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