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Fresh concerns over EC WEEE collection target

European Commission proposals to set mandatory collection targets for waste electrical and electronic equipment in the draft recast WEEE Directive have evoked a mixed response from the WEEE industry.

The EC published its draft proposals to revise the WEEE Directive on 3 September. It proposes to change the current collection target from 4kg per head of population to 65 per cent by 2016 for all Member States. This means that the new target is set at 65 per cent of the average weight of products placed on the market in the two preceding years

WEEE compliance scheme for gas discharge lamps Recolight chief executive Nigel Harvey told MRW: We are very supportive of the targets. But the targets need to vary depending upon the category of each product to take into account the products market growth and the products lifecycle. For example, take category 13 for lamps, where the market has doubled in the last two years and the lifecycle of lamps lasts for at least six years making 65 per cent impossible to achieve.

HP environmental compliance manager Dr Kirsty McIntyre said the target was not achievable and questioned why fiddle something that is not broken? She explained: HP appreciate what the Commission is trying to achieve with the recast Directive. But we feel that they need to look at the system and provide the whole picture not just a part of it. We feel that they should not place responsibility solely on the producers.

She said that there were huge amounts of WEEE that fall out of scope of the producer compliance system in the hands of the likes of scrap dealers, retailers, brokers and re-use firms which will make it difficult for producers to achieve the 65 per cent target.

WEEE producer compliance Repic chief executive Philip Morton said the WEEE collection target was challenging, as the UK is hitting 40 per cent now, and would need a fairly radical shake up of the current system to hit the 65 per cent target.

He added: A view presented recently by an industry group to EU delegates in Brussels suggested an alternative solution. There are two types of WEEE; that with a net overall cost to collect and treat, and that which has a net credit due to the value inherent in its reclaimed materials. The group believes that it is not practical or proper to impose a target on producers or producer schemes to collect a fixed percentage of WEEE without granting them free, full and complete physical access to it. Once this is the case, producers will finance 100 per cent of what they are given, negating the need for a target. If economic operators were allowed to concurrently collect and treat WEEE (and make a profit from doing so), but required to abide by WEEE standards, this wouldnt disrupt the existing economic models, it would simply bring all WEEE into the system.

Logistics firm Wincanton commercial manager Simon Hill said: I think it is achievable. It will be a challenge but overall it will benefit the environment and targets have to be set that are challenging.

He added that capturing large domestic appliances, improving the amount of small WEEE from households, and capturing business-to-business WEEE will help the UK reach this target. He also said that changing the way WEEE is recorded will allow the UK to find where WEEE is leaking from the system.

Hill also said that the proposals may help to stem illegal exports as it will help look at how we regulate it.


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