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BIS launches WEEE consultation

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has opened consultation on the UK’s interpretation of the new Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, indicating it will go no further than the minimum goals set out by Brussels.

The consultation document invites responses on achieving the over-arching aim of the directive, namely a new collection target of 85% of WEEE generated from 2019 onwards.

“The Government intends to use the ‘copy out’ principle to transpose the recast Directive”, the document spells out. “This means that the UK will not go further than implementing the minimum requirements of the Directive.”

BIS says it will retain a market-based approach to the system for ensuring that producers fulfil their obligations, driven by responses to its Red Tape Challenge, a commitment announced in the Budget in 2012.

The report says: “That commitment seeks to address concerns both that the amount that many producers have to pay through producer compliance schemes is often much higher than the true costs of processing WEEE, as well as concerns that the administrative burden placed on small producers is too high.”

Four options over compliance schemes are set out:

  1. Do nothing
  2. Establish a national compliance scheme
  3. Introduce a collection target and compliance fee
  4. Match collection sites to producer compliance schemes

The Government says it is “minded” to pursue either option 3 or 4.

“In addition, we intend to simplify the system of compliance for small producers that fall below a de minimis threshold of EEE placed on the market,” the report adds - suggesting a five-tonne threshold.

“Views are sought on the level for such a threshold. It is also proposed to give the operators of designated collection facilities (DCFs) of household WEEE (ie local authority sites and private operators) the freedom to retain control over the treatment of WEEE streams likely to generate net revenue for the collector. This would be instead of DCFs being required to hand over those streams to a producer compliance scheme. This provision does not exist in the current regulations.”

Business minister Michael Fallon said: “The revised Directive presents us all with new challenges. Not least the need to achieve more challenging collection targets and increased product scope in the future. But the biggest challenge is to ensure we meet those commitments in a way that is as least burdensome as possible – particularly for producers and treatment facilities.”

Separate consultations will not be published by the devolved administrations, with BIS promising a Government response within eight weeks of the end of consultation on 21 June. Implementation is slated for 1 January 2014.

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