17.10.2012 0

How the WEEE Directive Helps the Environment

Computers are a commodity in today’s world. As they become cheaper and cheaper even while increasing in power over previous years’ models, more people buy them and dispose of them each year. This wastefulness cannot be good for the environment, and it is made all the worse by the hazardous nature of some of the materials used in computer manufacture. While some of the materials in your computer are easily recyclable, such as the glass, aluminium and steel parts, others pose greater difficulties. Batteries and other miscellaneous electronic components can often contain chemicals that are very unpleasant for the environment, and indiscriminately dumping them on a landfill may not only be a poor idea, but may actually be against the law. In order to keep companies in check, there is the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment or WEEE directive.

WEEE

What started as merely a good idea has since become European law. The most essential goal of the directive is to place greater responsibility on companies dealing in waste disposal so that our world is not polluted unnecessarily. Because of the law, a large percentage of computer components is now recycled relatively harmlessly compared to simply dumping pieces on a landfill. As a result, it is likely that at least some of the materials used in your current computer or smartphone had a previous life as an earlier model. Alternatively, the materials might have come from a car or some other machine. This circular approach to disposal makes our world a better place.

Responsibility

When disposing of an old computer, it is important to make sure that the disposal and recycling company is legitimate and takes all the necessary precautions to make the process as kind to the environment as possible. Remember that it is not only the environment at large that benefits from this. Dangerous components are also taken care of in a safe way rather than allowed to risk hurting someone in the process of being dumped. Some fluids present hazards to the environment, such as polychlorinated biphenyl, which can deal damage to the land and sea long term. Chlorofluorocarbons are notorious for depleting the ozone layer. Other miscellaneous components like back-lights in laptop displays also present problems and must be disposed of with care. Batteries and cathode ray tube monitors are some of the worst offenders.

Compliance

All good disposal and recycling companies make use of the WEEE recycling directives. In most cases, they are required to by law, although it is always worth checking to see whether a particular company can boast full compliance. When disposing of your used computer parts, it is only sensible to seek the environmentally-friendly solution. Look for companies that have recent site inspections and can provide full certification for their procedures. The best recycling companies work with partners who can provide evidence for the reuse of materials in new products. When you have a paper trail that follows materials from one consumer product right around in a circle to another product, you know that the recycling process is effective and genuinely helpful.

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