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Falling retail sales affect WEEE figures

The shortfall in waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) collections during 2017 is being seen by the UK’s largest producer compliance scheme as a reflection of falling sales of new household electronic and electrical goods.

The target for 2017 was 622,033 tonnes, itself 40,000 tonnes higher than that collected and reported by schemes throughout 2016.

But Defra’s 2017 total was just under 523,000, confirming expectations within the sector last year that the target was over-optimistic.

Mark Burrows-Smith, chief executive of Repic, was encouraged that the overall return rates, as a percentage of all EEE, remained consistent at around 40%.

“The amount of household EEE put on the market for most categories has fallen year on year, with an overall 6% reduction between 2016 and 2017. With less EEE being purchased, it is unsurprising that the amount of WEEE being produced is also falling.

“The preliminary findings from an independent study by Lancaster University, which was commissioned by Repic in 2017, confirm the link between EEE and WEEE arisings.

“Early findings also indicate that complementary flows, second-hand markets, household residency times and component theft are all also affecting the amount of WEEE generated and collected.

“This is an area where better data and intelligence will help to inform future target setting. Priority areas for further research include used EEE markets, how long products stay in the home, unreported legal and illegal WEEE flows, and the mass balance for component theft.”

The project is reported in the latest issue of MRW

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