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Fears WEEE collection targets could be missed

Weee pile

Compliance scheme Clarity Environmental has highlighted concerns over new waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) collection targets after Environment Agency (EA) figures revealed a 9% fall in collections.

According to the EA, 133,409 tonnes of household WEEE was reported by producer compliance schemes between January and March. This is down from 146,998 tonnes for the same period in 2016.

Almost every category of WEEE saw a fall compared with 2016, and collections of large household appliances dropped by nearly 5,000 tonnes.

The last time large household appliances collections fell was in 2012. This was in part due to a fall in scrap metal prices, according to Defra.

In March, Defra set out new WEEE collection targets based on an increase in collection rates over recent years.

Vikkie Fitzgerald, Clarity project manager, said: “This will give little comfort to those stakeholders who have concerns that the target for producer compliance scheme collections in 2017 – just over 622,000 tonnes – is a challenging one.

“It is of course only one fourth of the picture, with collections traditionally increasing in quarters three and four of the compliance year.

“We will expect to see the April-June data in late August, and this will be closely reviewed again.”

Mark Burrows-Smith, chief executive of compliance scheme Repic, said: “2016 was a landmark year for household WEEE collections with tonnages reaching a record high in most categories and in some cases exceeding expectations.

“The 2017 WEEE collection targets are ambitious and although it is still relatively early in the year, the quarter one data shows collections are behind these on a pro-rata basis in most categories, particularly for display equipment which saw the highest proportion of collections in 2016 taking place in quarter one.

“As we expected, collections of cooling appliances have remained broadly in line with the same levels as 2016, however mixed WEEE collections have fallen.

“It is important for the success of the WEEE system that all stakeholders remain committed to achieving the targets.”

Lighting compliance firm Recolight said lamp collections were slightly lower than the pro-rata target for Q1, at 1,420 tonnes.

Chief executive Nigel Harvey said: ”However, the data also shows that some 70 tonnes of non-obligated waste lamps were collected in Q1. This additional tonnage would largely make up the shortfall.

”This suggests that overall, the 2017 waste lamp target is set at about the right level.”

The Environmental Services Association said it was disappointed that Defra did not opt for higher WEEE collection targets following the March announcement.

  • This article was updated on 7 June to include comments from Repic and Recolight

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