Guidance

Classify some waste electrical devices, components, and wastes from their treatment

Guidance for waste operators and exporters on classifying some waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) devices, components, and wastes from their treatment.

Applies to England

You must classify any waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) that leaves your premises. In your waste transfer note or consignment note you must:

  • give the WEEE a List of Waste (LoW) code
  • describe it

It is the chemical makeup of waste that determines the LoW code and waste status. WEEE can be:

  • hazardous waste – if it contains hazardous chemicals above certain concentration limits
  • persistent organic pollutant (POP) waste – if the chemicals are POPs and above certain concentration limits

Read the guidance Classify different types of waste to find LoW codes for WEEE types known to include:

  • hazardous chemicals
  • POPs

If your WEEE type is not listed in this guidance you will need to assess the items yourself.

Assessing items of WEEE

These are the types of WEEE you may need to assess yourself:

  • office equipment – non-household type such as photocopiers and printers
  • medical devices – category 8
  • monitoring and control instruments – category 9
  • automatic dispensers – category 10

Components such as printed circuit boards and plastic parts can contain hazardous chemicals and POPs.

To assess the WEEE you must first identify if hazardous chemicals and POPs are present and then the quantity present.

To do this you compare the concentration of the chemical in the whole item with the legal concentration limit(s) that apply. You can find information on concentration limits and advice on how to do an assessment in the guidance:

If you are assessing more than 1 item of WEEE, follow the advice on waste sampling in Appendix D Waste classification technical guidance. However, do not compare the chemical concentration in the component (as stated in Appendix D) to the limit, compare the amount in the whole item. The Environment Agency will update the technical guidance during 2020.

You must keep a copy of your assessment and it must be available to the Environment Agency on request.

If you cannot do this assessment or get the information you need, you should classify the WEEE as hazardous and POPs waste as a precaution.

Wastes from treating WEEE and WEEE components

You must identify if any item of WEEE is POPs waste before you treat it. See the guidance on classifying electronic and electrical equipment for advice on how to do this.

When POPs affect the outputs from WEEE treatment

Where an item of WEEE is POPs waste, you must destroy the POPs. If you treat an item of WEEE that is POPs waste, the material containing the POPs ends up in the treatment output. This means these outputs are classed as POPs waste, and they must be destroyed. This applies even if the treatment has diluted the level of POPs to below the concentration limit.

If you know the WEEE item is not POPs waste, it may still contain low levels of POPs. Therefore separating materials during treatment may result in increased concentrations of POPs in outputs that contain plastics, cable or printed circuit boards. These are POPs waste if the level of POPs is above the concentration limit. You must assess the concentration of POPs in these wastes, or manage it as POPs waste.

If you treat an item of WEEE that has not been assessed to determine if it is POPs waste, you should manage the device and treatment outputs as POPs waste as a precaution.

If you have assessed your waste and are still not sure if a WEEE item is POPs waste, you should manage it as POPs waste.

Here is some advice on how to classify some:

  • components removed from WEEE before or after treatment
  • plastic containing wastes produced by the WEEE treatment

We have not provided advice on all waste streams from WEEE treatment.

Printed circuit boards

We expect printed circuit boards to contain levels of POPs, hazardous brominated flame retardants and antimony trioxide above concentration limits. Nickel may also be present.

This advice also applies to printed circuit boards removed or separated during waste treatment. Use this code to classify the waste.

Waste type Waste status Household type Industrial or commercial
Printed circuit boards Hazardous and POPs Does not apply 16 02 15*

(*) An asterisk at the end of a code means the waste is hazardous.

Cables and granulated cable plastics

We expect internal and external cables and wiring to contain levels of POPs, hazardous brominated flame retardants, antimony trioxide, plasticisers, and other chemicals above concentration limits.

This advice also applies to cables or wiring removed from devices or separated during waste treatment.

Use these 2 codes to classify waste cables.

Waste type Waste status Household type Industrial or commercial
Cables from WEEE Hazardous and POPs Does not apply 16 02 15* and 16 02 16

Use this code to classify waste granulated cable plastics, from which copper and other non-plastic materials have been removed.

Waste type Waste status Household type Industrial or commercial
Cable plastics from WEEE Non-hazardous and POPs Does not apply 19 12 04

(*) An asterisk at the end of a code means the waste is hazardous.

If the cable plastics contain non-plastic materials, like copper, the waste is mixed. You must also check the concentration of hazardous chemicals and use the appropriate 19 12 11* or 19 12 12 code instead of 19 12 04.

Plastic cases removed from display devices

Plastic cases from display devices, including both flat panel displays and cathode ray tubes, will contain hazardous chemicals and POPs above concentration limits. These are hazardous and POPs waste.

This advice also applies to compact, baled or shredded plastics from display devices.

Use these 2 codes to classify the waste.

Waste type Waste status Household type Industrial or commercial
Plastics from display devices Hazardous and POPs Does not apply 16-02-15* and 16 02 16

(*) An asterisk at the end of a code means the waste is hazardous.

Mixed wastes, containing plastic from the treatment of WEEE devices that are hazardous and POPs waste

This waste type, which includes wastes produced from treating devices that are hazardous and POPs waste, remains a hazardous and POPs waste.

An example of a hazardous and POPs waste is mixed waste from treating small mixed WEEE. This is because it contains the contaminated plastics.

Read the guidance classifying electronic and electrical equipment to find out which categories of WEEE are known to be hazardous and POPs waste.

Waste type Waste status Household type Industrial or commercial
Mixed waste from treating WEEE containing hazardous components and POPs Hazardous and POPs Does not apply 19-02-04*

(*) An asterisk at the end of a code means the waste is hazardous.

Plastic wastes from treating fridges and freezers

Fridges and freezers have plastic components containing POPs, hazardous flame retardants and antimony trioxide. These will be present in the treated waste.

You must check the concentration of POPs in the plastic to determine if the waste is POPs waste.

Use these codes to classify pure plastic fractions from treating fridges and freezers.

Waste type Waste status Household type Industrial or commercial
Plastics from treating fridges and freezers containing POPs Non-hazardous and POPs Does not apply 19-12-04
Plastics from treating fridges and freezers not containing POPs Non-hazardous and non-POPs Does not apply 19-12-04

(*) An asterisk at the end of a code means the waste is hazardous.

If your plastic fraction contains other materials like foam or cable it is a mixed waste. You must also check the concentration of hazardous chemicals and use the appropriate 19 12 11* or 19 12 12 code instead of 19 12 04.

Plastic containing residues from treating certain large domestic appliances (LDA)

White goods like household type washing machines, tumble driers, dishwashers and cookers are not hazardous or POPs waste.

However they include plastic components and printed circuit boards which may contain POPs, hazardous flame retardants, and antimony trioxide. The concentration of these chemicals may be increased in the treatment outputs that contain these components.

You must check the concentration of hazardous chemicals and POPs in these treatment residues to determine if the waste is hazardous or POPs waste.

The code you select will also depend on the process you use to produce the waste and the output from that. Here are some examples.

Waste type Waste status Household type Industrial or commercial
Metal shredding light fraction containing POPs and hazardous chemicals Hazardous and POPs Does not apply 19 10 03*
Metal shredding light fraction not containing POPs and hazardous chemicals Non-hazardous and non-POPs Does not apply 19 10 04

(*) An asterisk at the end of a code means the waste is hazardous.

If other types of devices are present in the LDA waste stream, you should remove those that are hazardous or POPs waste before processing. If you process a WEEE device that is POPs waste, the outputs containing those POPs will remain POPs waste – even if diluted below concentration limits by the treatment process.

Wastes from treating outputs from other WEEE treatments by density separation

Density separation treatment is used to separate plastics containing brominated flame retardants (including hazardous chemicals and POPs) from uncontaminated plastics. The brominated (heavy) fraction is POPs waste.

Where the process reliably separates these plastics, and removes other contaminating materials, to produce pure plastic output fractions use these codes for those fractions.

Waste type Waste status Household type Industrial or commercial
Light plastics from bromine separation of WEEE containing POPs Non- hazardous and non-POPs Does not apply 19-12-04
Brominated (heavy) plastics from bromine separation of WEEE Non-hazardous and POPs Does not apply 19-12-04

(*) An asterisk at the end of a code means the waste is hazardous.

If your plastic fraction contains other materials you must also check the concentration of hazardous chemicals and use the appropriate 19 12 11* or 19 12 12 code instead of 19 12 04.

Mixed batteries from treating WEEE

See the guidance on classifying WEEE for the codes you can use for batteries.

You must give the appropriate 16 06 XX code(s) for each type of battery present.

You must not use the 20 01 33* code for separately collected municipal fractions of mixed batteries for batteries you have separated during waste treatment.

Exporting WEEE, treated WEEE and used electrical and electronic equipment (EEE)

You must notify the export of all hazardous and POPs waste.

You must only export these to an EU or Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country.

You can only export waste for recovery. Exporting waste for disposal is not permitted. Recovery options for POPs waste are limited to techniques that destroy the POPs, for example incineration with energy recovery.

If you are exporting used EEE for reuse it must not be classed as waste. See the legal definition of waste guidance to check when an item is classed as waste.

How to code electronic scrap

You must not use the green list waste code GC020 for electronic scrap containing hazardous chemicals or POPs.

The Waste Shipments Regulation defines GC020 as:

“electronic scrap (for example printed circuit boards, electronic components, wire etc.) and reclaimed electronic components suitable for base and precious metal recovery”

You will be breaking the law if you ship waste classified as GC020 and it:

  • contains hazardous substances or components with hazardous substances
  • has not been pre-treated to remove any components that are unsuitable for metal recovery such as plastic casing or glass

The majority of electronic scrap and reclaimed electronic components are likely to contain hazardous substances, these include but are not limited to:

  • POPs such as some brominated flame retardants in plastic casings, printed circuit boards and cables
  • batteries and accumulators
  • heavy metals such as antimony, cadmium, mercury and nickel

You must document evidence of any testing or pre-treatment done to remove all hazardous components and other materials unsuitable for metal recovery. This must be available on request. If you cannot do this you must ship the waste as notified waste.

You can only ship notified hazardous wastes to EU, European Free Trade Association and OECD countries subject to their local controls. Shipping hazardous wastes to non-OECD countries is prohibited.

Published 8 June 2020