World first as UK switches on WEEE reuse drive

A new WEEE standard launched this Autumn will seek to boost confidence in the reuse of waste electrical and electronic equipment, as well as cut down on illegal exports.

The industry is gearing up for PAS 141:2011, a new British best practice standard that will act as a labelling system for consumers that any used equipment they buy is electrically safe to use and functionally fit for purpose.

The standard will also help to reassure original equipment manufacturers that their safety liabilities and reputation will be protected by reuse organisations using documented safety tests, removing confidential data and keeping records to demonstrate this.

PAS 141 will also be used to differentiate ‘bona fide’ exports from illegal exports of WEEE under the guise of being sent abroad for reuse.

The international Correspondents Guidelines call for a ‘test’ to differentiate between reuse and the illegal exports of waste – but fails to specify what ‘test’ is required. PAS 141 sets out the tests to fill this gap and will be used by the UK environmental agencies to focus efforts on stopping illegal exports.

WEEE treatment facilities looking to achieve PAS 141 status will be independently assessed by UKAS accredited certification bodies to ensure they meet the standard. Accreditation of the first UK certification body will take place this summer with more likely to follow.

PAS 141 was developed by industry experts working with BIS on improving overall standards for the treatment of discarded electrical and electronic equipment in the UK.

Valpak, the administrator of the scheme, reports that overseas interest in the standard is growing, with copies of PAS 141 selling outside the UK and used in discussions at recent UN meetings on how to provide affordable access to reused computer equipment in developing countries.

Maxine Perella

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