Recolight has claimed that around 20% of all LED lamps sold in the UK are not WEEE-compliant because of the growing practice of transactions through multi-seller online retailers.
The waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) compliance scheme is calling on ministers to address what is seen as a legal loophole. It has also contributed to a forthcoming report on global WEEE non-compliance by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Recolight has undertaken research into LED sales on a major multi-seller website. It is not being named by Recolight but MRW understands this refers to Amazon.
The site returned 480,000 hits for the search term ‘LED bulb’. Recolight found that 75% of sellers were not registered for WEEE and it estimates that 20% of all the lamps were non-compliant.
The scheme’s chief executive Nigel Harvey called this “a huge, huge number”. He said much of the WEEE came from companies based in China or Hong Kong.
“We were both surprised and alarmed by our findings. If our estimates are correct, it would appear that WEEE free-riding through some online multi-seller platforms has reached epidemic proportions.
“What is more, WEEE could just be the tip of the iceberg. While it is easy to check WEEE compliance, it is harder to verify electrical safety, CE, VAT and import duty compliance. If a company has not complied with WEEE, how certain is it that it complies with other UK requirements?”
The OECD report, due in September, is expected to estimate that free-riding through online sellers is around 5-10% of all electrical products sold, but smaller products that are easy to ship, such as LED lamps, had a higher rate of non-compliance
EucoLight, the European trade association for lighting WEEE compliance schemes, is co-hosting a seminar on the issue in Brussels on 13 September.
Amazon UK has been contacted for a comment.