A lobby group of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) processing companies has called for an investigation into the increasing amount of goods that are not reported to producer compliance schemes (PCSs).
The Approved Authorised Treatment Facilities (AATF) Forum (pictured), which includes representatives from AO, Veolia, Viridor and EMR, among others, said that, since 2008, a gap had developed of around 7.6 million tonnes between the amount of household equipment placed on the market and WEEE officially collected.
Unreported WEEE will in some cases be down to illegal treatment or export.
The Forum issued a statement in response to a ‘white paper’ commissioned by compliance scheme Repic, which proposed a new method to calculate the amount of WEEE placed on the UK market in order to set “more realistic” recycling targets.
The UK missed its 2017 WEEE collection target for PCSs to collect 622,033 tonnes, leading to concerns that the methodology for setting targets is flawed.
Repic’s paper recommends the development of a “dynamic WEEE forecasting model” to assess more accurately the flow of products, but it adds that more work needed to be done on unreported WEEE.
The AATF Forum said: “While a significant proportion might remain in continued use or be exported quite legitimately, it exposes the scale of WEEE leakage that any full-life modelling of EEE will not be able to measure.”
Forum chairman Phil Conran said: “The WEEE Directive was designed to reduce the environmental impact of WEEE disposal and to ensure it was treated under best available techniques.
“Clearly this is not happening, with significant quantities either being treated in substandard processes or being exported illegally.
“The emphasis for further work must therefore be to identify this leakage and ensure the full weight of effective enforcement is brought to bear.”
The Forum wants to develop a project funded by compliance fees to “fully investigate” what is causing the leakage and how to stem the flow.