Domestic Appliances come under the  title of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE). When an appliance becomes Beyond Economical Repair (BER), they are termed Used Electrical and Electronic Equipment (UEEE), and when disposed of they become Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).

Disposal of WEEE is covered by the European Union’s WEEE Directive. This was first introduced into UK law in 2007 by the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulations 2006.  The current UK regulations date from 2013 and are due to be amended again next year. The aim of the legislation is to reduce the amount of electrical and electronic waste and to encourage everyone to reuse, recycle and recover it.

Manufactures provide information on how to dismantle and dispose of their products when they come to the end of their life, and mark them accordingly. They finance the cost of treating and recovering the types of products that they produce through registered compliance schemes.

In 2020 large domestic appliances which include fridge freezers, washing machines and dishwashers are expected to account for over 60% of the total WEEE collected by tonnage. Small appliances such as vacuum cleaners, hairdryers and toasters are expected to account for a further 7%.

WEEE is divided into various waste streams for safe disposal and, increasingly, to be recycled into new products. Pioneering work undertaken by the Waste & Resource Action Plan (WRAP) has demonstrated that even shredded fridge waste can be recycled into new panels. It is expected that recycling will account for an ever-larger proportion of the waste stream.

Domestic Appliances also make a positive impact on reducing other waste – for example efficient modern appliances reduce the amount of water used for laundry and dish washing. Refrigeration and freezing prolongs the life of foodstuffs thereby also reducing waste.

In-sink food waste disposers can help to generate new energy as they grind waste food into minute particles, so that it can be transported, via the sewers, to waste processing stations and turned into ‘green energy’ through anaerobic digestion.

AMDEA was a founder member of the Joint Trade Association Group (Producer Responsibility) – 10 Trade Associations working with three Producer Compliance Schemes to improve the UK WEEE system.

The 10 Trade Associations are: AMDEA: Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances; BEAMA: (originally an acronym for the British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers’ Association); BIPBA: British and Irish Portable Batteries Association; BHETA: British Home Enhancement Trade Association; BTHA: British Toys and Hobbies Association; Make UK, the Manufacturers’ organisation; Gambica: (originally an acronym for the Group of Association of Manufacturers of British, Instruments, Control and Automation); techUK: (The trade association for the Information and Communication Technology and Consumer Electronics sectors); LIA: Lighting Industry Association; and PETMA: Portable Electrical Tool Manufacturers’ Association

As the JTA is not a legal entity, a separate company, Joint Trade Associations (Contracts) Limited (JTAC), was formed for the express purposes of entering into contracts with third-party organisations for services such as the Compliance Fee administration. The Directors and Company Secretary of JTAC are senior representatives of AMDEA, BEAMA, LIA and TechUK.

Right to Repair

From 2021, EU firms – and any UK firms wishing to sell to the EU market – will have to make products such as refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and televisions longer-lasting.

Under the new standards, manufacturers will have to supply spare parts for these household appliances for up to 10 years.

The manufacturers must ensure spare parts can be replaced with the use of commonly available tools, without permanent damage to the appliance.

But under the new rules, only professional repairers – not consumers – will be supported by manufacturers to carry out the repairs.

Our members and those of the larger independent repair sector have repeatedly complained about difficulties accessing replacement components and technical information for broken appliances.  Because the cost of parts is controlled largely by the manufactures, the cost of performing repairs can make it uneconomical, forcing consumers to replace defective products that would otherwise be easily fixed.

The planned changes have been preceded by a new energy-rating regime identical to the one introduced EU-wide on March 1. The UK’s adoption of this rating standard was agreed in 2018 and 2019, while the UK was still a member of the bloc.

While the previous standard included A+, A++, and A+++ tiers, white goods are now graded on an A-G scale. Requirements, meanwhile, are tougher, with manufacturers forced to meet steep energy consumption targets to clinch a coveted A grade.