Collect and Recycle

WEEE consultation suggests backing for change

Plans by the government to transform the manner in which the UK’s compliance system for waste electrical and electronic equipment is run have received broad backing from IT recyclers, electronics producers and WEEE compliance schemes, reports Collect and Recycle (http://www.collectandrecycle.com).

There was particularly strong backing for the government’s two preferred options for change – the matching of collection sites and compliance schemes, or compulsory targets and a compliance fee for schemes – in the findings from the consultation on the proposed alterations to the system, as the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) published on Friday 23rd August. Overall, there was overwhelming backing for changes to the WEEE disposal regime.

However, with a formal response to the consultation submissions still being compiled by BIS, the government is not bound to choose the option preferred in the consultation. Original plans to publish the BIS response indicating what shape the new regulations will take eight weeks after the conclusion of the consultation have been shelved in favour of a September publication date. Although it has not yet been confirmed definitively when the new regulations will come into effect, 1st January 2014 is the widely expected date.

The consultation laid out four options for how the future WEEE recycling system could look, having been launched as part of efforts to incorporate the recast WEEE Directive’s requirements into UK law. It was also prompted in part by producer concerns that the true cost of recycling was not accounted for in the present regulations.

The first option proposed by the consultation was no change at all, with the present system being retained. Option two was to replace competition between current compliance schemes with a ‘National Producer Compliance Scheme’, while the third option involved compliance schemes being set targets, with a ‘compliance fee’ charged for those schemes that failed to meet them. This was as an alternative to collection schemes trading WEEE evidence data. The fourth and final option involved the pairing up of collection sites and compliance schemes.

In analysing the responses, BIS pinpointed option 4 as having been ranked as the first choice by the most respondents, 116. The option was backed by producers and their trade associations on the basis that it would significantly reduce compliance costs. Compliance schemes also showed some support for the fourth option. However, the fears of local authorities of no longer being able to choose their own PCS made them this option’s “most vocal” opponents, according to BIS.

Although the greatest number of ‘first choice’ votes was gained by option 4, 97 per cent of respondents actually ranked option 3 as their first or second choice, with the majority of local authorities and their representative bodies backing it. The other two proposals received significantly less support among respondents.

In common with other waste disposal companies and recycling stakeholders, we will certainly pay close attention to the formal BIS response here at Collect and Recycle (http://www.collectandrecycle.com), and will keep you suitably updated.

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