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Defra chastised over approach to WEEE targets

Defra has been accused of failing to meet both the spirit and the environmental requirements of the WEEE Directive by setting unambitious collection targets.

The hard-hitting criticism comes from the AATF Forum, representing 18 approved authorised treatment facility operators which account for more than 80% of treatment for waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE).

The members are also urging Defra to spend some of the compliance fee revenue to identify why insufficient WEEE is being captured, and to educate householders and businesses on WEEE disposal through a media campaign.

In response to Defra’s proposed 2018 collection targets, the forum says they lack ambition and make assumptions that the WEEE is not available.

It reinforces the AATF Forum in December disputing producer claims that a failure to hit 2017 WEEE recycling targets would be because of a lack of availability.

A statement said: “The forum asserts that there is significant leakage in the system and the lack of incentive to collect WEEE provided by the compliance fee has led to potentially obligated WEEE being processed through informal – and often environmentally damaging – disposal routes such as illegal exports and non-accredited ATFs.

“The forum believes that by simply tracking the previous year’s collection performance, Defra is failing to meet both the spirit and the environmental requirements of the WEEE Directive, namely ‘The purpose of this Directive is to contribute to sustainable production and consumption… by the reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery of such wastes so as to reduce the disposal of waste and to contribute to the efficient use of resources and the retrieval of valuable secondary raw materials’, “ it added.

Defra’s reliance on “substantiated estimates” is said to undermine the UK’s aspiration to be an environmental leader as it effectively supports a substandard treatment regime.

The operators have proposed new targets to Defra (see below). They acknowledge that reduced sales of new products will feed into the WEEE markets, but they claim there is “a huge gap” of 772,000 tonnes between WEEE and EEE placed on the market.

Defra has been asked for a comment.

  • Current AATF Forum members: AO, Balcan Engineering, Eco Technology, Electrical Waste, EMR, Environcom, GAP Waste, Light Brothers, London Mining Associates, Mercury Recycling, Recycling Lives, S Norton, Sims, SWEEEP, Veolia, Viridor, Wastecare and Wiser.

Proposed targets:

WEEE2017 collections2017 targetDefra proposed 2018 targetForum proposed 2018 target

LDA

182,189

232,811

190,171

191,298

Displays

54,188

71,267

46,512

56,897

Cooling

135,145

148,017

136,608

141,902

SMW

145,889

163,763

154,227

154,227

GDL

5,383

6,132

5,256

5,652

PV

106

43

40

111

Total

522,900

622,033

532,774

549,045

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