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Compulsory balancing act for WEEE schemes

weee

All producer compliance schemes (PCS) for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) will have to join a ‘balancing scheme’, under which the costs of collecting materials when requested by local authorities are shared among all PCS.

This is part of the Government’s response to its consultation on the WEEE regulations.

It said this would ensure that collection services were provided to councils where they have no collection contract with a PCS.

There will also be a change to fee distribution, with these in future being payable to the regulator in the country where the producers concerned are based, regardless of where the PCS itself is located.

Ministers have decided to keep the current 14 WEEE categories but with a new flexibility to allocate products previously out of scope to one of them.

This option was the outcome favoured by the Government and the most popular among consultees, being the first choice of 75% of respondents.

A ‘do nothing’ option attracted support from 16% and a move to a six-category system just 9%.

Nigel Harvey, chief executive of Recolight, said “Making a PCS balancing system mandatory is a great move. A majority of PCSs already participate in the current balancing system.

“However, a small proportion do not, and so they and their producer members can legitimately avoid funding the local authority WEEE that no PCS wants to collect. That is not fair, and so this change is very welcome.

“Retention of the 14 WEEE categories means producers will not need to report large and small equipment separately. That avoids unnecessary red tape.”

Robbie Staniforth, policy manager at Ecosurety, said: “The WEEE regulations remain imperfect, but this decision marks progress towards ensuring that the cost‐burden of collecting from local authorities is shared more evenly across obligated producers.”

Vikkie Fitzgerald, Clarity Environmental’s WEEE compliance scheme manager, said the requirement to join a balancing scheme would give “local authorities, and therefore households, the collections they require”.

Fitzgerald added: “We are pleased that Defra has made the decision to make it a mandatory requirement because we believe it allows a fairer approach to collecting WEEE, with all of the PCSs sharing the load.”

Clarity also supported retention of the 14-category system.

Mark Burrows-Smith, chief executive of Repic:

“Repic joins the echoes of support for retaining the 14 categories of WEEE as we transition into open scope. The no change from the current way of reporting is a sensible route to take as it is the least costly and disruptive option. It also provides ongoing stability to the WEEE system at a time of adjustment to new targets and EPR challenges.”

“Making the Producer Balancing System (PBS) a mandatory system is a fair and efficient way to deliver consistent and reliable collection services to Local Authorities whilst sharing the costs between Producer Compliance Schemes (PCS). The existence of the PBS creates a sustainable environment within which PCS of all sizes can operate and ensures a fair cost allocation.

“Whilst the current PBS has worked well, REPIC recognises the need to assess and review any evolution of the system, so would therefore expect the enabling legalisation will be for a PCS Balancing System rather than mandating the current PBS.”

“Defra’s proposal that EEE producer registrations fees should be allocated to the regulator in the nation in which that producer is based appeared fair and will ensure that producer WEEE charges are shared equitably between four environment agencies.

“In the long term, Repic would like to see a change to the WEEE Regulations to ensure all agencies charge the same annual producer registration fee to avoid “compliance tourism” which encourages PCS to register in the jurisdiction of the agency with the lowest fee for competitive advantage.”

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