Extending product lifetimes through WEEE reuse and repair: Opportunities and challenges in the UK

© 2016 Fraunhofer. Discarded electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) is a rapidly growing waste stream. This has increased, in part, because advances in technology have contributed to shorter product lifetimes. As such, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) has received increasing attention from policy makers. Previous research has revealed the large proportion of end-of-life consumer electronics disposed of through residual waste collections and destined for landfill disposal or incineration. This represents a missed opportunity for extending their lifetime by facilitating recovery for repair or reuse. This paper outlines current policy context, explores routes for end-of-life EEE in the UK and examines opportunities for product life extension through reuse. A series of semi-structured interviews were undertaken to determine if current collection system for end-of-life equipment in the UK adequately encourages increased repair and reuse in line with UK Government's waste reduction programme, or whether there is excessive focus on recycling. The findings are reported to discuss if UK policy framework is adequate to embed legislative requirements and improve current practices and whether the current system promotes awareness and understanding by householders sufficient to encourage behaviour change.