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Collection remains a concern for WEEE stakeholders

As the thermostats rise, the time left until the Government must implement the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive declines: it must be implemented into UK law this summer.

This week, a spokesman from the Department for Trade and Industry told MRW that the draft regulations were due to be out in late spring/early summer. However, many stakeholders remain concerned about vital aspects of the directive, and in particular how collection will work.

While acknowledging the key role that civic amenity (CA) sites have to play in collecting electroscrap, the Government has stated it will not place any new unfinanced burdens on local authorities.

In its response to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committees February report into the WEEE Directive, the Government said it would instead incentivise local authorities to separately collect WEEE.

The committee had recommended that the current network of civic amenity sites be expanded, so that such sites are easily accessible to all while existing sites be developed.

But the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) stated: The Government recognises that the WEEE Directive does not place obligations on local authorities.

Instead it proposed that councils be able to bid for money to upgrade civic amenity sites. Plus they would be able to pass any WEEE that is collected separately on to producers for recycling, so avoiding disposal costs while increasing recycling levels.

Stakeholders response to the Governments view has varied. Local authorities do not feel they should be burdened with collecting WEEE on behalf of manufacturers and retailers. Retailers feel that local authorities are best placed to help with collection.



Misplaced

The Local Government Association (LGA) believes that relying heavily on CA sites to meet collection targets is a misplaced idea.

Waste executive manager Alice Roberts told MRW that the association had made it clear to Government that local authorities will not cope.

CA site collection was not the only way to collect WEEE, she added.

There were two basic problems with relying solely on CA sites as outlined in its March position statement: access and size. Interestingly, these are also two arguments retailers have against in-store collection.

The LGA said that an adequate network should take into account service and equality issues and not be accessible by car only, for instance.

CA sites are not the only answer, it added, stating that one county reported that only four of their 10 sites had spare land capacity for an additional skip.

Roberts said: Large sways of the country do not have any CA sites and only people with cars can reach them, meaning only certain people will benefit.

And many dont have the room for WEEE collection.

She said that local authorities already faced other waste management pressures, mainly Landfill Directive targets.

What we are saying is that this is not the only way to implement the WEEE Directive. A lot of takeback is already done on a like-for-like basis and presumably a lot of large goods go down this route already. There is no reason why takeback could not occur at shops like mobile phone shops.

She believed that the Government and retailers were understating the costs of using CA sites. Its policy statement said that waste management suggestions showed that management of retail park collection points or bring days would be costly and potentially more costly than at-store takeback in certain circumstances.

Roberts said: They should give serious consideration before opting to use CA sites.



Suitability

The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) acknowledged the suitability of CA sites for WEEE collection. However, this should not compromise the need to implement the directive as intended and place the burden upon those distributors placing electrical and electronic e

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