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How to Recycle Electrical Waste

We all have electrical equipment that is obsolete or has outlived its usefulness. Households and companies can sometimes have quite a lot electrical devices and equipment that they’ll need to dispose of in the right way.

At Willshee’s we deal with a lot of electrical waste and we pay close attention to any new regulations that are introduced concerning it. Equipment that has broken completely or is not worth selling can be recycled, but how can you ensure that you are complying with government regulations?


No, that isn’t an excited “whee!” (though, we are very passionate about waste disposal) – WEEE stands for Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment. It is an EU regulation that first came into force in 2003 and has been updated a few times since then. It basically concerns the correct disposal of electrical equipment, because of the potential that some equipment has for environmental damage and negative health effects if not disposed of correctly.

One of its main aims is to ensure that more electrical equipment is recycled rather than just sent to landfill. Within the EU, 9 million tonnes of electrical waste was sent to landfill in 2005 and this number is expected to reach 12 million a year in 2020. It is important to try and reduce this as much as possible. Visit this page for more information about WEEE.

What can be recycled?

Basically anything that has a plug, uses a charger or batteries and has the WEEE crossed out wheelie bin logo on it can be recycled.

This includes a number of different electrical devices and equipment:

  • Large appliances, such as fridges, freezers, dishwashers, washing machines and microwaves.
  • Smaller appliances like toasters, kettles, irons and vacuum cleaners.
  • Computers and communication devices, such as laptops, fax machines, tablets, smartphones, telephones, printers and scanners.
  • Televisions, DVD and blu ray players, speakers and games consoles.
  • Drills, saws, sewing machines, lawn mowers and other power tools.
  • Electric toothbrushes, straighteners, curling tongs, hair dryers and other personal grooming devices.

Various types of plastics, ferrous metals, precious metals and more can be extracted from electrical items, which can then be used in a huge variety of other products and industries, including jewellery, car parts and lamps. During the recycling process, the electrical equipment is shredded up into tiny pieces, then separated out using:

  • Magnets to attract the ferrous metals
  • Eddy/Foucault currents to repel the non-ferrous metals

How do I go about recycling my electrical equipment?

So, you know what can be recycled, but you also need to know how to do it. You can take your electrical item to your local recycling centre – if you want to know where your nearest recycling centre is then click here. You can also set up a one-off electrical items pick up with your local council.

Some retailers offer a collection policy for your old electricals when they deliver your new one. They will know all they need to know about WEEE and will be able to handle all aspects of the recycling.

For devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, it is recommended that you wipe the hard drives to make sure that none of the personal data you have on them can be used by criminals who manage to get hold of them.


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