2016 WEEE recycling targets close to the finish line

2016 WEEE recycling data indicates the UK is overall on track to meet targets, but stream specific in-balances are forecast in categories influenced by dual use.

The latest publication of UK EEE sales and WEEE recycling data shows a good year for most. Over the last four quarters, sales of EEE appear to be up in all streams (with the exception of PV panels which has its own market dynamics), which is good news for UK business as consumer spending continues.

EEE data 2016

Often closely linked on a like-for-like replacement basis, the WEEE collected is also expected to be up compared to 2015, with the exception of Display and Gas Discharge lamps. Mostly good news for collectors and schemes towards their 2016 recycling targets. Key WEEE streams causing debate are as follows:

Display Equipment: potential for over collection

Looking at all collections of display equipment, both those funded by producers, and those not obligated to producers, there seems to be more than enough WEEE being collected to meet the 2016 targets. This in part stems from judging the decline in number of heavy CRT type displays, and increase in lighter flat panel type displays being collected, resulting in a net decline in weight even if the same quantity is arising.

Cooling Appliances: over collection

We estimate there will be about an extra 7,000 tonnes of cooling equipment collected above the 2016 recycling target, which will end up being funded by schemes and their producers in some way. Contrary to this, there has been a bottle neck in fridge treatment plant capacity, causing treatment and storage issues, and increased cost of treatment.

Additional capacity is expected to come online in 2017 when two new facilities will open. We expect increasing competition that has the potential to eventually reduce treatment costs to schemes and producers.

Gas Discharge Lamps: shortfall in collection

2016 saw a huge increase in the recycling target for Gas Discharge Lamps to counter the extra waste that arose at the end of 2015 because of dual use. As a result, schemes and producers were left with a large over collection and extra costs for 2015. To combat this over collection, recycling targets were significantly raised for 2016 to share the cost more equally across the producer market.

However, now with hindsight, the increase looks to be too stretching, resulting in a likely shortfall for schemes and producers. The impact could force schemes into a Compliance Fee methodology (read more here) to top up any shortfalls in their collections at end of year. The impact could roll into 2017 and have adverse effects on collections and costs unless the targets are reduced to be more in tune with lamp waste arising from the WEEE system.

Re-balancing targets

With this latest dataset in hand, we are now championing a re-balancing of these three streams to share out collection and treatment costs more fairly across the WEEE system. With a new DEFRA team and ministers in place (formerly WEEE operated under the now defunct Department for Business Innovation and Skills), it is the first time they can shape the 2017 targets in line with DEFRA objectives, with potential to reinforce the 25 year plan due out early next year. This will be a great opportunity to influence the fine balance between waste arising and financial contributions through the producer pays principle.

To find out more about how this could impact your WEEE obligations, please call our specialists on 0845 094 2228 or email info@ecosurety.com.

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Useful links

EA updates guidance on POPs in household WEEE

This week the Environment Agency has confirmed to waste operators and exporters that most household WEEE must be treated as hazardous waste, unless proven it does not contain POPs.


Government releases long-awaited review of the WEEE Regulations

Last week, the Government released their Post Implementation Review of The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2013.


WEEE targets missed for third year running

The WEEE collection figures released by Defra at the beginning of March reveal that the targets have been missed yet again.


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