Collect and Recycle

WEEE schemes taken by surprise by de minimis advice

Concern has been expressed by WEEE compliance schemes about Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) correspondence suggesting that small electronics producers should defer registration for 2014, computer scrap specialist Collect and Recycle (http://www.collectandrecycle.com) can report.

The Department told producers placing less than five tonnes of electronic goods on the market, in a letter sent on Wednesday September 11, to the delay their registration with a compliance scheme for the following year, despite a supposed sign-up deadline of November 15, 2013.

Although that deadline applies to all obligated companies, only smaller producers have received the surprise advice from BIS urging a delay in registering, which has been taken as an indication of the imminent introduction of a de minimis tonnage level, with a consequent exemption for smaller firms.

BIS has already proposed to revamp the WEEE disposal system, on which more details are expected before the end of September. A de minimis threshold would come under this banner, with compliance schemes having generally signalled their approval.

However, some have questioned how achievable a proposed January 2014 introduction would be, and have said that the decision may now be taken by some members to avoid re-registering if they think they could be subject to exemption from the legislation.

BIS stated in its letter to producers: “The existing WEEE Regulations require all producers to join or rejoin a scheme by 15 November 2013 for the 2014 compliance period. If it is possible, based on historical data, that your business may fall below any de minimis threshold effective from January 2014, you may wish to defer making any decisions about joining a compliance scheme for 2014 until the government has confirmed its decision regarding compliance requirements for small producers.”

Compliance schemes expressed various views in response, but generally called for prompt further advice and guidance from BIS.

Compliance scheme Budget Pack’s key account specialist, Matthew Manning, said that the BIS guidance had been a surprise for schemes, with no warning given that it would be sent out. He welcomed the “increase in the likelihood of a de minimis threshold being introduced to the WEEE regulations”, but added that “With the final consultation results being delayed until September it didn’t seem likely that a de minimis would be rolled out in such a short timeframe.”

Meanwhile, Duncan Simpson, director of sales and marketing at compliance scheme Valpak, urged BIS to clarify the legal position for producers and schemes opting not to register on the basis of the latest advice, given that they would otherwise be breaching the current regulations.

An interesting few weeks await compliance schemes and producers alike across the country, amid worries for at least one compliance scheme that even companies that have already signed up for 2014 could ask for their money back. Collect and Recycle (http://www.collectandrecycle.com) will certainly keep up to date with this story, and in the meantime, continue to provide the highest standard of electrical waste recycling services.

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