Do you know your numbers when it comes to electronic and electrical waste?

electrical wasteThe numbers involved in dealing with electronic and electrical waste are staggering.

Globally, we generate more than 41 million tonnes of e-waste each year, a report in 2014 found. That is expected to rise to around 50 million tonnes this year, the United Nations University says.

The UK alone generates 2 million tonnes of electronic waste in a year.

The Environment Agency calculates that waste crime – the deliberate mishandling of electronic waste  – takes as much as £1 billion from legitimate waste businesses and the Treasury in taxes.

Waste is often illegally sent to developing countries in a black market estimated to be worth £14 billion a year worldwide. There, it is often burned, releasing toxic fumes, or buried in landfill. Read more about the threat from illegally handled e-waste here.


Why is so much electronic waste produced?

Many electronic gadgets have a built-in obsolescence. In other words, they are created with a view to being obsolete within a few years.

This happens because technology is changing at a fast pace, and new innovations are constantly being brought into the marketplace.

Take the mobile phone market. In the past few years, we’ve seen better phone cameras, new innovations when it comes to shooting and storing video, assistants such as Siri and Cortana added to software, more capability to deal with apps, improvements to phone batteries, and better speakers for playing music or listening to podcasts.

It’s now possible to shape some phones and wear them around our wrists, such as the Samsung Galaxy X, thanks to innovative new materials being used in their production.

So, producers have brought out up-dated versions of their phones or created whole new lines.

What can happen if e-waste is not handled correctly?

Mishandled waste can pollute the soil and water courses, add to greenhouse gases, help deplete the ozone layer, and can have a devastating impact on human health because of toxic radiation or toxic fumes.

Electronic waste can contain dangerous chemicals such as nickel, mercury, and cadmium.


Who is responsible for dealing with it?

There are 14 categories of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment regulations (WEEE), incorporating phones, laptops, fridges, batteries, small electrical items such as toasters and kettles,

All retailers – in physical stores and online – must provide a way for their customers to dispose of old domestic electrical and electronic equipment when they are sold new items. They must either provide their own take-back service or join one created by distributors. Find out more here.

Producers of electronic and electrical goods must register every year and take on the responsibilities of a distributor if they sell directly to the public. They must also provide information on environmentally sound treatment of the products and their components and keep records for four years. Find out more here.


How do you choose the right company to handle your electronic waste?

Experience – Look for a company with a track record in dealing with electronic or electrical waste items, such as Inspire Waste Management. They will understand the complex rules associated with it and help you ensure your waste is correctly categorised.


Registration– Ensure the WEEE carrier is registered with the proper authorities. In England, that’s the Environment Agency, in Wales, Natural Resources Wales, in Scotland, it’s the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, in Northern Ireland it’s the Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs.


Destination– Ensure your carrier is taking the WEEE waste to a facility which is licensed to recycle it, and that they will provide you with an audit chain for your e-waste.


Do you need advice from our Inspire Waste Management experts in dealing with electronic waste? Call us on 0800 002 9282.



Is asbestos a headache on your construction project? It’s time to call in the experts

Developers and builders know that any project which involves asbestos means they need to act with great caution.

Any waste which has 0.1% asbestos is covered by stringent regulations.

Breathing in asbestos fibres, which can cause lung cancer and the fatal lung disease, asbestosis, is dangerous to their employees and the general public – and all businesses have a legal duty of care to protect both from harm.

Anyone coming into contact with asbestos in work must also be trained to deal with it safely and comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

The Health and Safety Executive has issued guidelines which say asbestos waste must be packed in UN-approved packaging.  A CDG hazard label and information about the asbestos code must be visible.

Asbestos should be double-wrapped and labelled. The HSE advises using a red inner bag with asbestos warnings, and a clear outer bag with the CDG label.

It says large pieces should not be broken up, instead they should be double-wrapped in 1000-gauge polythene sheeting and labelled.

Asbestos is also covered by the hazardous waste regulations, which means that removing and transporting it is governed by strict regulations.

You must classify it, that includes describing its chemical make-up and how it was produced, and you cannot mix it with non-hazardous waste, or different types of hazardous waste

It must be transported by someone with a waste carrier’s licence in a sealed skip or a vehicle with a segregated compartment.

It must also be taken to a suitably licensed waste disposal site

You need a consignment note to transport any commercial hazardous waste, including moving it between your own sites. That also includes removal by registered waste carriers.

Any site accepting hazardous waste without a consignment note, or an incomplete one, may be committing an offence.

You need to keep a copy of the consignment note for three years.


How do you choose the right registered waste carrier?


Check on their registration– Ensure the carrier is registered with the proper authorities. In England, that’s the Environment Agency, in Wales, Natural Resources Wales, in Scotland, it’s the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, in Northern Ireland it’s the Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs.


Check on their experience– Have they transported asbestos waste before? Do they understand all the regulations surrounding it, and the implications of the 2012 Act? Can they put you in touch with companies for whom they have worked in the past?


Check on the end destination– Choose the suitable end destination yourself or ensure your carrier is taking the asbestos waste to a facility which has the correct licence. If a consignment is turned away by a facility, you could find it coming back to your site and the process of waste removal could end up being more time-consuming and costly than you imagined.

Do you need advice from our experts in transporting with asbestos at Inspire Waste Management? Call us on 0800 002 9282. Our waste consultants will also help you plan your removal project before you begin.