New figures show the UK increased the collection rate of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) by 1.2% in 2010 against the previous year. And boosting collections could get tougher as local authorities make cuts to household waste recycling centres, says one industry expert.
Data published by the Environment Agency (EA) for 2010 shows around 461,220 tonnes of household WEEE was collected against the 2009 collected tonnage of 454,282 tonnes. As a proportion of the amount of EEE placed on the market, the collection rate for 2009 was 37.2%, which has increased to 38.4% in 2010.
Compliance schemes and recyclers are increasingly focusing on small WEEE collection rates, as this is seen as an area where householders can easily throw the waste in their bins rather than recycle it. Many campaigns, such as the recent WRAP WEEE schemes, are now targeting this type of WEEE in order to increase collection rates. Data from the EA shows the UK collected small WEEE at a rate of 14.5% in 2009. This increased to 16% in 2010.
SWEEEP contracts manager Justin Greenaway believes the increase in collection rate was just “organic growth”. He said: “It’s not been stimulated by investment schemes or the EA.
“WRAP’s targeted WEEE schemes have been a raving success but the thing is, they’re localised and it’s up to the local authority to keep the momentum going. Now, a lot of the household waste recycling centres are being cut by the local authorities to preserve budgets, so if the message does get across to householders, they will have to travel further to an HWRC. Compliance schemes may have to think of some more innovative collection systems to increase the rates.”
An 85% WEEE recycling target for 2016 could potentially be put in place in the UK. It is currently being debated in the Council of the European Union after MEPs voted in favour of it in the European Parliament last month.