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Lamp WEEE recycling targets under fire

The collection target rate for lighting WEEE could be “very challenging for years”, according to a sector compliance scheme.

The recorded collection rate for lamps in 2014 was 29%, a significant drop from 53% in 2013.

Tom Meney, manager with the Electrical Waste Recycling Group compliance scheme, said that while the trend was down marginally, the main reason for the drop is a redefinition of which products are in the specific WEEE category.

Following the recast of the WEEE Regulations last year, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) included LED lighting and integrated LED light sources in Category 13 which was previously uniquely the domain of ‘gas discharge’ lamps.

This meant a 62% increase in the volume of the new, longer-lasting lamps that have now been placed on the market in this category.

“Given this increase in lamp EEE placed on the market, and the collection rate target in lamps and other hazardous WEEE categories, it looks set to be very challenging in the years to come,” he said.

The recast WEEE Directive from BIS requires a minimum of 45% of all WEEE to be recycled starting from 2016. This will increase annually to 65% by 2019.

Alistair Rinfret, managing director of Balcan Engineering, believes 45% is achievable but is concerned that the increasing popularity of LED will cause issues in the future.

“As the percentages are increased each year, there will come a time when the traditional lamp sales drop off, as LEDs take over and are not coming back through the system. At this point the target set may be a lot more difficult to meet,” he said.

A spokesperson for BIS said it did not envisage problems for recyclers arising as a consequence of the regulatory change given the low levels of lighting products containing LED lamps currently entering the waste stream.

“The changes in the regulations refer to how we are asking producers to report lamps they place on the market, and do not directly impact on the way they are collected when they become waste, either at a business or at household collection centres.”

  • On 3 July, MRW reported that the new regulations could also lead to higher recycling costs for operators which may need to implement additonal sorting procedures.

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