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Producers' WEEE shortfall case questioned

Fridges

Operators of approved authorised treatment facilities (AATFs) are disputing producer claims that a likely failure to hit 2017 WEEE recycling targets is down to a lack of availability.

The AATF Forum, a newly formed body of 18 businesses accounting for 90% of the UK’s AATF capacity, says that data is being misrepresented and any shortfall is more about leakage from the formal WEEE regulations system.

Producer compliance schemes (PCSs), which represent those putting electronic and electrical equipment (EEE) on the market, argue that any failure to meet the 2017 WEEE target is, in part, because of flat and, in some categories, falling sales which affects consumer recycling behaviour.

The forum has two graphs (below) showing new EEE placed on the market and the WEEE collected on a quarterly basis during the past six years.

The decline in collection of most streams is significantly greater than the decline in EEE placed on the market. The forum says there are two areas of concern:

AATF Forum WEEE collection data

AATF Forum WEEE collection data

  • Unrecorded reuse: it says significant quantities of used appliances and displays, especially from retailer collections and warranty returns, are being treated for reuse without being classified as waste
  • Illegal exports and unreported treatment: AATF Forum members say there has been an increase in enquiries from “dubious” businesses seeking to purchase any usable items for export, regardless of the condition, and that WEEE from car-boot sales and online platforms is also being exported illegally 

There is also a claim that large quantities of ‘unobligated’ WEEE reported by AATFs are not being captured for evidence.

Looking at the particular category of large domestic appliances (LDAs), it says that collections by PCSs are running at 40% less than 2016 levels and PCSs are “less willing to do more than collect what they are legally required to” from local authorities.

A forum statement said: “The UK is required to meet a 65% collection target by 2019. With actual recorded collections running at around 40%, this will be extremely challenging.

“It will need a robust AATF infrastructure which will only happen if WEEE is properly collected, recorded and delivered, and this will only happen with challenging targets that require PCSs to engage in active collection growth.”

It is not clear to the forum whether or not non-obligated is being correctly reported and it is in discussion with the relevant agencies to try to make reporting requirements clearer.

  • The AATF Forum was established in October 2017 and its founding members were: AO, Eco Technology, Electrical Waste, EMR, Environcom, GAP Waste, Light Brothers, London Mining, Mercury Recycling, Recycling Lives, S Norton, Sims, SWEEEP, Veolia, Viridor and Wiser. 

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