Find your local EMR Metal Recycling scrap yard and start selling your waste metal to us today.

What does a compliant and responsible recycler look like in the WEEE industry?

David Holdcroft, EMR UK Commercial Director

David Holdcroft

As concern about our environment grows and evidence of our changing climate builds, it is more important than ever that companies like EMR do the right thing. But what does a compliant and responsible recycler look like in the Waste Electronics and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) industry?

In many ways, the answer is simple. EMR must continue to go above and beyond the minimum industry standards for safe and environmentally-conscious recycling practices. That’s easy to say, but I want to dig a little deeper and explain some of the world-leading innovations and investments our business is making – throughout our operations – to achieve this goal.

EMR handles WEEE in line with an EU directive (which has since been transposed into UK law). Under these rules, no electronic waste – any product with a battery or plug – can be sent to landfill or exported. At EMR, we handle three key waste streams including large domestic appliances (such as washing machines and dishwashers), temperature exchange equipment (mostly fridges and freezers) and small domestic appliances (including toasters and kettles).

A ‘producer pays’ model means that the manufacturers of these products have the responsibility to ensure they are responsibly recycled, usually via a Producer Compliance Scheme, which then contracts with trusted recyclers like EMR to handle this waste.

One significant challenge in WEEE recycling is fridges, which contain a number of harmful gases within their compressors, the component which helps to keep them cool. These gases include either CFCs, which depletes the Earth’s ozone layer, or Pentane, which is highly flammable and is harmful to both humans and the environment.

For many years, these compressors have been sent to Pakistan for further recycling, once these dangerous gases have been safely removed. Thanks to EMR’s investment these components will soon be recycled here in the UK, ensuring more valuable resources remain in this county.

EMR will soon be opening a brand-new fridge plant. In addition to a number of innovations, which will help it run more efficiently and sustainably – including AI and robotic separation processes – the new site has been set up to meet the strict requirements of the Environment Agency’s new Appropriate Measures for fridge recyclers.

Despite these challenges and changing regulations, recycling WEEE is still a significant opportunity for companies like EMR. This waste stream often contains valuable steel and aluminium as well as copper. These are finite resources and, as more of the world comes to rely on an ever-greater number of electronic devices, it’s important to ensure that the metals already in circulation are safeguarded for future use.

In addition to the wide range of metals present, WEEE also contains many plastics – an increasing amount of which are recyclable. Thanks to our world-leading plastic recycling arm, MBA Polymers UK, EMR can now ensure that more of this material is processed and re-enters the circular economy, too.

But EMR isn’t stopping there. Our longstanding track record of investing our profits back into the business mean that we’re constantly looking to improve our processes and increase our standards. Our Sustainability Strategy – launched in 2020 – is seeing EMR make significant investment in decarbonisation to achieve an ambitious and science-based 2040 net-zero target.

Whether it is protecting our teams and the environment by meeting the highest standards or investing in the latest green technology, you can hopefully see that EMR takes being a compliant and responsible recycler very seriously. And if you want to know more about our services – or about the range of industry-leading environmental and safety standards our sites operate to – do not hesitate to get in touch.