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Repic calls for ‘realistic’ WEEE compliance targets

Phone weee waste

Compliance scheme Repic has proposed a new method to calculate the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) placed on the UK market in order to set “more realistic” recycling targets.

UK missed its 2017 WEEE collection target for producer compliance schemes (PCSs) to collect 622,033 tonnes, leading to concerns that the methodology for setting targets is flawed.

In addition, under the WEEE Directive, the UK’s WEEE collection target will jump from 45% of products placed on the market to 65%, or 85% of all WEEE generated.

Defra will decide on the tonnages that PCSs will be required to collect in March, based on estimates of WEEE on the market.

But this estimate can be tricky due to the unpredictable way in which new products can change buying patterns. The amount of WEEE available depends on consumers throwing out old equipment and gadgets, and this can also be hard to predict.

Repic commissioned the Pentland Centre of Sustainability in Business at Lancaster University to research better ways of forecasting buying trends and how people dispose of end-of-life products.

A ‘white paper’ has now been published by Repic based on research. It recommends the development of a “dynamic WEEE forecasting model” to assess more accurately the flow of products.

Chief executive Mark Burrows Smith said: “The initial findings show that improvements in modelling and target-setting are clearly possible.

“There is a clear knowledge gap. Improvements in data need to be addressed before we can effectively develop a model that will help to inform future Government waste policy and industry decision-making. The targets for the whole of the UK will increase considerably in 2019.”

Dr Alison Stowell, principal investigator at the Pentland Centre, added: “The initial research has helped us to identify the undesirable flows of WEEE so any future target-setting model can better replicate market dynamics.

“Before modelling, it is evident that further research is required around unreported flows, mass balance, lifespan and residence times.”

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