DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THAT OLD WASHING MACHINE?

First published in News

Moving home is a great chance to declutter.

But what do yo do with all that unwanted electrical equipment?

You certainly don't want to take it with you to your new home. And new electrical and electronic equipment regulations mean that you can't just chuck it in a skip or hide it at the bottom of your dustbin.

All of us are being encouraged to think more carefully about how we dispose of used or broken electrical goods.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic (WEEE) regulations introduced in July last year, help us to do this.

The new law means that manufacturers and retailers have to help us find a solution and we, as consumers, are expected to play our part.

Removal company Robinson International in Oxford frequently comes across people moving home who want to get rid of old or broken electrical goods, but leave it too late.

Often they end up taking their electrical rubbish to their new home.

So, to help you sort things out before you move and keep within the law, Robinsons has put together these handy guidelines.

So what is WEEE?

WEEE is more or less anything that you no longer need that has a plug or a battery. It includes everyday electrical items of all shapes and sizes, from table lamps and some childrens toys to washing machines, tumble dryers and fridges.

Is waste electrical and electronic equipment a big problem?

Yes - and growing. Waste electrical goods are said to make up the fastest growing waste stream in the UK. It is estimated that 1.4 million tonnes of the stuff was sold in 2007 alone.

Over the years, discarded electrical goods have taken up a great deal of landfill space. As well as using up valuable land, a lot of WEEE contains material that is harmful to the environment, such as heavy metals and organic pollutants, and components that don't biodegrade.

How should I dispose of it?

All waste electrical and electronic equipment should be disposed of separately and never dumped in your dustbin.

New products are now labelled with a crossed out wheelie bin logo. If you see this symbol it means you must not throw that product out with the rest of your household rubbish.

So, what do I do with my old electrical equipment?

If you are buying a new kettle, fridge or any other electrical item, the retailer has to offer you help to dispose of your old item, regardless of whether you bought it in store or online. If you are not replacing an item, you can take your unwanted equipment to a recycling centre yourself, putting it in the appropriately marked WEEE container.

How do these retail schemes work?

Retailers have two choices. They can either run their own take-back scheme on a like-for-like basis.

So, if you buy a new electrical product you can hand over your old item in the store or if it's a large piece of equipment or arrange to have it picked up by a collection or delivery service.

lternatively, retailers can join a national scheme and provide you with information about WEEE facilities that are available in your local area.

What will I have to pay?

Manufacturers, producers and retailers of the equipment carry the cost of the actual processing to recycling. Retailers can, however make a charge to you for taking away your old equipment. Most local authorities run bulky waste collection services. You need to contact them direct to find out more details, including any charge made.

What about charities?

Some voluntary organisations will take items like radios and mobile phones for repair and reuse, and there are networks, like freecycle, that encourage the exchange of unwanted items.

Your local authority may be able to provide you with a list of re-use charities and networks, or search online with www.recycle-more.co.uk And look out for 'cash for recycling' schemes. You may be able to make money on your unwanted goods.

What happens to the items onc they have been taken away?

Where possible, electrical equipment is refurbished for re-use.

Anything that cannot be re-used is broken down into its componen parts for recycling as raw materials.

Whatever is left is disposed of in the most environmentally-friendly was possible.

WEEE and moving? What is the most important piece of advice?

Don't leave it to the last minute. We are all being urged to be mor responsible about how we dispose of old electrical equipment, but this means you will need to plan in advance. In the long term, we will all reap the benefits.

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