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WEEE regulations missed opportunity for reuse says LGA

Proposed changes to the UK’s electronic waste collection system does not tackle low reuse rates, the Local Government Association (LGA) has said.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published a response to comments received from its consultation on the Recast WEEE Directive. It proposed compulsory collection targets for compliance schemes and a compliance fee if that target is not met.

But Mike Jones, chair of the LGA’s environment and housing board, said: “Where the proposals appear to have missed an opportunity is on reuse. Currently only 8% of captured WEEE is reused, which is a huge waste.”

“Therefore we are disappointed that there is nothing on the increase of reuse in the BIS proposals.”

Speaking at a parliamentary panel debate, ‘Making the most of electrical waste: The Recast of the WEEE Directive’, an Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG) event, Jones added that there was a lack of incentive to promote reuse over recycling.

However, he welcomed the Government’s proposals on the whole and highlighted the benefits of allowing local authorities to opt into collecting their own WEEE “to generate their own wealth”.

In response Graeme Vickery, senior policy adviser at BIS, said there is a significant amount of informal reuse of WEEE which is never captured and counted.

Some industry members in the audience agreed that the 8% reuse figure may “seriously underplay” the actual amount of reuse occurring.

A BIS spokesperson also said: “Under the approval process, UK environment agencies require Producer Compliance Schemes (PCSs) to prioritise reusing WEEE that they have seperately collected.”

Furthermore, Vickery said that the European Commission (EC) is due to discuss the introduction of a separate target for reuse.

The EC has committed to re-examine the recycling and recovery targets and its findings will be published by August 2016, according to BIS.  

Vickery added that Government plans to publish guidance on the new WEEE proposals shortly.

BIS is welcoming responses to the plans until 1 November.

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