What is WEEE? 

If a product needs a battery or a power supply to work properly it is electrical and electronic equipment or EEE for short. Household EEE includes products such as mobile phones, computers, power tools and hairdryers. EEE used by businesses includes data servers, hospital equipment and catering equipment.    

When EEE no longer works properly and needs to be thrown away, it becomes a waste or waste electrical and electronic equipment or WEEE for short. WEEE is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world. It is also one of the most difficult to manage safely.  

A lot of the EEE in our homes contains batteries. Eventually, these batteries also reach the end of their useful life too and become waste batteries 

Why are WEEE and waste batteries important? 

WEEE and waste batteries contain dangerous materials, such as mercury. If these materials get into the air or water, they can cause serious damage to the environment and to human health. They also contain valuable materials such as gold and platinum.  

So, it’s very important to manage WEEE and waste batteries properly and safely. It is much better to recycle them instead of throwing them in the bin. When they’re recycled, the valuable materials can be used again in new products and the dangerous materials will not cause any damage to the environment or to humans. 

Buying new products 

When you buy certain new EEE products, you must pay a small additional charge called a ‘visible Environmental Management Cost’ or vEMC. This is used to pay for the recycling of the product when it eventually becomes waste - WEEE. The vEMC applies to products such as fridges, TV’s and certain types light bulbs. The amount that you must pay depends on the type and size of the product. There is no vEMC for batteries.  

Recycling WEEE and waste batteries 

We can all play our part in the safe and proper recycling of WEEE and waste batteries. In Ireland, there is a system to recycle these products.  

Recycling WEEE and waste batteries is free. You can bring them to your local recycling centre or civic amenity site. You just drop them into the right box. The vEMC pays for the WEEE to be collected and recycled safely. 

Find the recycling centre nearest to you, where you can recycle your WEEE, batteries, and light bulbs. 

You can also bring WEEE to a shop or retail outlet when you are buying a new product. It does not have to be the same place where you bought the original product. They must take it back when you are buying a new one but only if the shop sells the same type of product. For example, you can’t return a power drill to a shop that does not sell power drills.  

You can return waste batteries to any retailer but only if they are selling the same types of batteries. For example, a retailer of car batteries does not have to accept portable batteries if they don't sell them. You do not need to buy new batteries to return waste batteries at a retail outlet.   

You can just drop waste batteries into the red or blue boxes that are displayed in many supermarkets and other shops. You don’t need to buy new batteries when dropping off the old ones.  

Important note: The outlet does not have to take back waste batteries if they are damaged or leaking.  

The WEEE and waste batteries are collected from the recycling centres and shops and taken to be recycled. 

Remember:  

  • Recycle your WEEE and waste batteries
  • Don’t throw them in the bin
  • WEEE and battery recycling is free

Legal obligations 

Any person or organisation that manufacturers, imports and/or sells EEE or batteries in the country has legal obligations to meet. Find out more about the legal obligations that apply to producers and retailers/distributors of EEE and batteries.  

Any person or organisation that manufacturers, imports and/or sells EEE or batteries in the country has legal obligations to meet. Find out more about the legal obligations that apply to producers and retailers/distributors of EEE and batteries.  

Useful sources of information 

Find out about the legislation that regulates WEEE

Find out about the legislation that regulates waste batteries

Find out who is responsible for doing what under the legislation by downloading the booklet on Who does what - WEEE and battery regulations