Many everyday consumer items are electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), such as mobile phones, computers, drills, hairdryers, as well as industrial items such as medical devices, and laboratory equipment. When these items reach their end of life they are defined as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Lots of electronic goods contain hazardous materials like heavy metals or batteries. These materials can cause serious environmental damage and are dangerous to human health. There is a system in place in Ireland to help recycle these products. Recycling rather than dumping means valuable components can be used again in new products and there will be less mining of raw materials.
Also, many electrical items are powered by batteries. Batteries can contain heavy metals (mercury, cadmium, lead), which are the main cause for environmental concern. If waste batteries are not disposed of correctly, heavy metals may leak when the battery corrodes, and so can contribute to soil and water pollution and endanger human health. Due to the hazardous nature of batteries, separate legislation for the management of waste batteries was transposed into Irish law in 2008. The Battery regulations include all types of batteries, such as portable, industrial and automotive.
Importers and retailers of EEE and batteries have obligations under both WEEE and Battery Regulations.