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Councils 'know little' of WEEE schemes workings

Local authority waste officers take little interest in the operation of WEEE compliance schemes, a survey has found.

Work by the University of Central Lancashire for the compliance scheme Repic found waste disposal officers felt knowledgeable about the WEEE directive but less so about the operation of producer compliance schemes (PCS).

There was little knowledge of the amounts of WEEE collected and whether this was in accordance with PCS’s obligated requirements.

“This is unsurprising, as the [council] is not directly financially involved in the collection and treatment cycle between the authorised approved treatment facility and the PCS representing producers,” it noted.

The survey A Study of the Attitudes and Perceptions of Waste Disposal Authorities in the Collection and Treatment of WEEE From Designated Collection Facilities (see right), was answered by 178 authorities found 51% did not know whether its PCS over- or under-collected WEEE in relation to obligated targets.

Schemes being partially funded by trading WEEE evidence notes was considered of little importance, scoring only 2.4 on a scale where five denoted ‘very important’.

Audit trails and environmental credentials were though rated as of high importance when choosing a compliance scheme.

Repic chief executive Philip Morton said this was reassuring as “selecting a scheme that directly requires the WEEE is key, as it is the trading of evidence which leads to weaknesses in the audit trail for WEEE”.

Karl Williams, director of the university’s Centre for Waste Management, said: “From the waste disposal authority perspective WEEE was not a prominent waste stream, however, it was encouraging that officers gave WEEE a higher priority in both its collection and treatment”.

More than 70% of authorities believed that they could benefit from a better understanding of the recast WEEE Directive.

The highest ranked factor affecting household WEEE recycling rates was ignorance among householders, with WEEE being placed in residual containers.

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