The repair and re-use of electrical and electronic products keeps valuable materials out of the waste stream for longer. Re-use organisations also have a positive social impact in the communities in which they operate.

Key points

Almost £300m in sales value could be realised from re-using WEEE each year in the UK.
  • Often simple repairs are all that is required.
  • Several repair business models are available.
  • Re-use protocols help ensure safety and quality, and WRAP provides free guidance on these.

The business case for repair and re-use

Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) and local authority bulky waste collections represent important routes for collecting Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).

Research carried out by WRAP in 2011 indicated that approximately 23% of the WEEE separately collected at HWRCs could be re-used with a small amount of repair. This volume of product represents a large resale value for the re-use sector, let alone preventing such products being disposed of.

It was estimated in the study that up to £220m in resale value could be obtained from the repair, refurbishment and open market resale of WEEE from HWRCs. Nearly three quarters of this value is from small WEEE (such as laptops, toasters, kettles etc.), in part because this is most commonly disposed at HWRCs, and this has the greatest potential economic recovery value. 

Whilst a smaller quantity of WEEE is currently collected by bulky waste collections, the estimated resale value of this bulky collected WEEE is around £77 million, of which 61% arises from large domestic appliances such as fridges and freezers.

Repair models

Several repair models for WEEE are used by re-use organisations, some of which are more suited to certain products, but all highlight an opportunity for business. These models include:

  • Fixed price repair.
  • Repair services offered by re-use organisations.
  • Exchange repair service.

Householders can be pointed to repair websites such as iFixit for simple repair of popular consumer electricals.

Re-use protocols for electrical products

The standard PAS 141 is a process management specification for the re-use of used and waste electrical and electronic equipment (UEEE and WEEE). It has been developed to:

  • improve the standards for the re-use and refurbishment of electrical and electronic equipment that has reached the end of its first useful life in the UK; and
  • address the demand from consumers for assurance that the used electrical products they buy are electrically safe to use and functionally fit for purpose. 

WRAP has developed a set of 15 protocols that describe minimum tests and procedures that should be carried out.  The protocols will help increase consumer confidence in re-use electrical products that are fit for purpose and help businesses to achieving PAS 141 specification.

Further details on PAS 141 are available on the British Standards Institution (BSI) website for a fee.

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