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A WEEE concern over household collections - COMMENT UPDATE

There are fresh concerns from the waste electrical and electronic equipment industry over European Commission proposals for WEEE producers to collect from private households.

The recent publication (3 September) of the draft recast WEEE Directive states: Member States where appropriate, shall encourage producers to finance all the cost occurring for collection facilities for WEEE from private households.

It also states that WEEE deposited at collection facilities, as well as separately collected through other channels, are handed over to producers or third parties acting on their behalf free of charge, for the purposes of preparing for re-use to appropriate establishments or undertakings.

WEEE compliance scheme Repic Philip Morton told MRW that many stakeholders were confused by this proposal.

He explained: Currently, many of the large WEEE items discarded by homeowners are collected on delivery of new items by retailers or by bulky waste collections by or on behalf of local authorities, both often using back loads. It is these organisations rather than producers who form the natural interface with homeowners and homeowners find it the most user friendly route, for example delivery and collection happens at the same time. It would seem to be environmentally and economically detrimental if producers had to establish a parallel network and since the system currently delivers an excellent, consumer friendly, low cost, efficient environmentally sound route it would be rather bizarre to seek to disrupt it.

Morton also explained that WEEE will be diverted down a less preferable route and would not necessarily increase separate collection. If the goal is to increase separate collection this can be achieved through a better public awareness campaign, consumers generally want to recycle they just need to know how and where.

HP environmental compliance manager Kirsty McIntyre said: The Commission seems to have forgotten all the pain we went through drafting the first Directive.

The producer is not an expert at collecting from households - local authorities are.

WEEE reprocessor Midex general manager Chris Spooner disagrees. He said: "Making producers responsible for collecting end of life goods makes a lot of sense as they are the people that supplied the kit in the first place.  As things stand at present, its only our kerbside domestic WEEE collection initiative that is currently an approved producer compliance initiative capable of fulfilling the proposed changes to the Directive.

Logistics firm Wincanton commercial manager Simon Hill added that the proposal could divert more WEEE from landfill and increase the amount of small household WEEE collected but we do have to be mindful of the costs.

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