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Increased WEEE targets will require better collection, say recyclers

uk weee regime

Less reliance on the compliance fee and more physical collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) are needed if the UK is to meet EU targets.

Defra has told producer compliance schemes that they will need to collect 12% more overall this year, or 13,000 tonnes more, to meet targets. The household WEEE target total is 550,132 tonnes, up from the 2018 target of 537,066 tonnes.

The Approved Authorised Treatment Facility (AATF) Forum backed the increased targets but warned that better collection would be needed.

The Forum is concerned that the targets will be met through the compliance fee as producer compliance schemes decide it is cheaper to use that, risking unknown fees, rather than physically start collecting.

The Forum said this will pose a dilemma for Defra which has acknowledged that it needs the target amount to be actually collected to meet the EU target.

Forum chair Phil Conran said: “We welcome the proposals put forward by Defra for the 2019 WEEE collection targets.

“We recognise that, for some categories, these will be challenging, but we strongly believe that more must be done to ensure that household and commercial WEEE is properly treated through the AATF Forum infrastructure and not allowed to leak out of the controlled system into unauthorised disposal routes such as illegal exports.

“While we recognise the benefits of the compliance fee, we believe that more must be done to meet these targets through physical collections and not through use of the compliance fee.

”Members of the Forum will seek to work with producers, producer compliance schemes and regulators to identify and reduce illegal activity, increase collections and raise treatment standards.”

Last year the UK failed to meet its targets, and there is a growing gap in knowledge between WEEE placed on the market and where it actually ends up. Some WEEE may be going through reuse routes by being sold on or passed to friends and family, while other WEEE may be being put in household residual waste or illegally shipped overseas.

This gap in knowledge has been identified as a hinderance to investment in WEEE infrastructure. Repic, for example, has called for improved data collection and more ‘realistic’ collection targets.

Various projects have been launched to try to find out where the missing WEEE is ending up.

The small mixed WEEE target requires an increase of 25% above the 2018 collection and 23,000 tonnes up on the 2018 target.

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