The WEEE industry has welcomed the proposed introduction of a compliance target and fee from January 2014, but there is concern over meeting the targets and the level of fees for missed targets.
The Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) has published its draft of the WEEE regulations, introducing a system based on option 3 in its consultation this summer.
Philip Morton, chief executive of WEEE compliance scheme REPIC, commented: “Option 3 was the most viable option from the outset and we very much support the added protection against producers having to fund a higher than true cost of recycling as well as the peace of mind that it provides to local authorities that 100% of WEEE will be collected regardless of any target.”
Chairman of the Joint Trade Associations (JTA), representing eight major trade associations in the electrical sector and four producer-owned and led WEEE compliance schemes, Richard Hughes said the proposals will bring an end to the ‘must buy’ market for WEEE. Schemes will no longer have to bid for costly WEEE evidence and costs to producers should then reflect the actual costs incurred.
Recycling firm SWEEEP Kuusakoski’s contract manager Justin Greenaway said compliance targets were the most “obvious outcome” to the consultation, which “attempts to satisfy as many parties as possible.”
But he said the concern with a compliance fee is that, “if set too low, it could jeopardise the complete stability of our existing collection system”.
He added: “Fingers crossed this huge change works out better than the battery directive where hazardous batteries are being left unfunded due to over collection of fictional portable lead batteries.”
“The timeline will make it quite difficult for schemes to know their exact targets early enough to put in place suitable collection arrangements,” said Phil Conran, director of environmental consultancy 360 Environmental, “And the lateness of the compliance fee calculation will make it difficult for Producer Compliance Schemes to determine whether they should contract for tonnage or wait to pay the compliance fee.”
Hughes also said that it would be key to implement the BIS decision quickly and that the JTA would be submitting proposals to the Government over the methodology for the compliance fee.
Conran said that the ‘de minimis’ threshold of five tonnes for small producers has also been widely predicted but will clearly have a significant impact on some schemes.
Commenting on the threshold Robbie Staniforth, WEEE compliance scheme Budget Pack’s key account specialist, said: “A less onerous reporting process for small EEE producers will make it easier for companies to comply with the legislation.”
Craig Anderson, chief executive of the Furniture Reuse Network (FRN), welcomed the Government’s preference to amend the UK WEEE system, saying: “It is also welcome that these changes will give certain new options to designated collection facilities across the UK and we certainly hope this includes third party WEEE collection facilities as well as those operated by local authorities.
“But having said that, on the reuse front, we are somewhat disappointed that on first reading there seems to be no attempt to further support and encourage reuse of whole WEEE and to create a more level playing field for reuse on par with recycling. It looks like we’ll have to wait until the EU comes up with a better solution for reuse and sets some robust targets.”
He added that the draft regulations were a “missed opportunity” for the UK to take the lead on sustainable development and a circular economy.