Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE): appropriate measures for permitted – 5. Waste treatment appropriate facilities measures – Guidance


1. Where WEEE cannot be prepared for reuse it must be treated to maximise the recycling and recovery of materials whether that is at the same facility or by further downstream processing.

2. You must fully understand, monitor and optimize your waste treatment process to make sure you treat waste effectively and efficiently. You must not treat waste to deliberately dilute it or mix any hazardous outputs with any non-hazardous outputs.

3. The treated output material must meet your expectations and you must fully classify and characterize them to ensure they are suitable for their intended disposal or recovery route.

4. You must identify and characterise emissions from the process and take appropriate measures to control them at source.

5. You must have up-to-date written details of your treatment activities, and the abatement and control equipment you are using. This should include information about the characteristics of the waste you will treat, and the waste treatment processes, including:

  • simplified process flowsheets that show the origin of any emissions
  • details of emission control and abatement techniques for emissions to air and water, including details of their performance
  • diagrams of the main plant items where they have environmental relevance – for example, storage, tanks, treatment and abatement plant design
  • details of manual dismantling processes, for example removal of cables and plugs, removal of batteries, capacitors and printer cartridges, draining of oil from radiators
  • Details of physical treatment processes, for example shredding, separation, compaction, filtration, heating, cooling or washing
  • details of any chemical treatment processes
  • details of any biological treatment processes
  • details of any effluent treatment, including a description of any flocculants or coagulants used
  • an equipment inventory, detailing plant type and design parameters – for example, time, temperature, pressure
  • waste types to be subjected to the process
  • the control system philosophy and how the control system incorporates environmental monitoring information
  • process flow diagrams (schemics)
  • venting and emergency relief provisions
  • a summary of operating and maintenance procedures
  • process instrumentation diagrams

6. You must have up to date written details of the measures you will take during abnormal operating conditions to make sure you continue to comply with permit conditions. Abnormal operating conditions may include:

  • unexpected releases
  • start up
  • momentary stoppages
  • shut down

7. You should use material flow analysis for relevant contaminants in the waste to help identify their flow and fate. You should use the analysis to determine the appropriate treatment for the waste either directly at the site or at any subsequent treatment site.

8. Material flow analysis considers the contaminant quantity in the:

  • waste input
  • different waste treatment outputs
  • waste treatment emissions

9. You should use the analysis and your knowledge of the fate of the contaminants to make sure you correctly treat and either destroy or remove them.

10. The use of material flow analysis is risk-based considering:

  • the hazardous properties of the waste
  • the restricted chemicals in the waste
  • The risks posed by the waste in terms of process safety
  • occupational safety and environmental impact
  • knowledge of the previous waste holders

11. A treatment process may destroy certain substances in the waste. It could also put substances into the air, water or the ground, or produce residues which are sent for disposal. You should minimise the weight of these outputs. The treatment process may produce residues for recovery or reuse and you should maximise the weight of these outputs.

12. You must not proceed with the treatment if your risk assessment or material flow analysis indicates that losses from a process will cause:

  • the breach of an environmental quality standard
  • the breach of a benchmark
  • a significant environmental impact

13. To track and control the process of change, you must have a written procedure for proposing, considering and approving changes to technical developments, or to procedural or quality changes.

14. You must minimise the release of diffused emissions to air from activities which may give rise to them (for example, shredding or granulating) by:

  • carrying out the activity using enclosed equipment or in an enclosed building
  • Maintaining the enclosed equipment or buildings under an appropriate pressure
  • collecting and directing the emissions to an appropriate abatement system

15. Unless you are preparing it for reuse, you must remove all fluids from WEEE along with those substances, mixtures and components listed in Annex VII of the WEEE Directive.

16. Removal may be a staged process and may be undertaken at different facilities. You must be able to demonstrate either:

  • you have removed the substances, mixtures and components listed in Annex VII of the WEEE Directive from WEEE as required by the conditions of your permit
  • those substances, mixtures and components will be removed at a suitably authorised downstream treatment facility

17. You must make sure that any substances, mixtures and components removed as part of your treatment process are subsequently recovered or disposed of at an appropriately permitted facility.

18. If you transfer partially treated WEEE to another site you must properly describe it, so the recipient knows which treatments are complete and which still need to be done.

19. You should no longer routinely find certain hazardous items and substances that were once used in electrical appliances but are now banned. However, they may still be present on occasions. For example, any capacitors found in equipment manufactured before 1987 should be assumed to contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) unless there is clear evidence to the contrary. Asbestos may be found in old coffee pots and heating elements. You must be alert to these possibilities and ensure you have documented procedures in place to identify and remove them for appropriate disposal before any mechanical or shredding operation takes place.

Capacitors containing PCB are POPs waste and must be treated in a way that results in the destruction of the PCB content.

20. You must monitor and record the outputs of your treatment activity, including their weight. The monitoring must be used to provide evidence that the treatment and removal of these components and substances has been carried out to a satisfactory standard.

21. When removing components, you must safely remove the whole item where breaking it up might:

  • pollute the recyclate or waste stream
  • result in unacceptable emissions

22. Components that you must always remove whole, that is intact and identifiable, (unless this guidance states specific circumstances where you do not need to) include:

  • capacitors containing PCBs
  • mercury containing components
  • toner cartridges
  • components with asbestos
  • components with refractory ceramic fibers
  • components with radioactive substances
  • gas discharge lamps including CCFL backlights
  • cathode ray tubes
  • electrolyte capacitors containing substances of concern that have a height or diameter greater than 25mm, or have a proportionately similar volume
  • batteries and powerpacks

23. Instead of removing them as whole components, you may recover the following as fragments or materials using mechanical treatment:

  • chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) or hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), hydrocarbons (HCs)
  • external electric cables
  • printed circuit boards
  • liquid crystal displays
  • the activated coating in cathode ray tubes (CRTs)
  • plastic with brominated flame retardants (BFRs)

24. You may either:

  • sort batteries on site
  • send batteries as a mixture of chemistry types to a specialist battery treatment operator for sorting

25. You must pack and store lithium and lithium-ion batteries removed from WEEE during treatment in a way to minimise the likelihood of electrical shorting, physical impact and overheating.

26. All outdoor WEEE treatment areas must have an impermeable surface with a sealed drainage system. It must collect all surface water run-off and channel it to a blind sump unless it may be lawfully discharged.

27. Indoor WEEE treatment areas must have an impermeable surface and you must provide spillage collection facilities appropriate to the materials being handled.

28. WEEE treatment should take place under weatherproof covering such as a roofed building. Where this is not practicable, for example, due to the large size of the plant, appropriate measures must be taken to minimise the exposure of waste to rain and wind. This may include the covering of:

  • hoppers
  • conveyors
  • skips of treated materials
  • storage bays containing treated materials

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