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2020 WEEE collections pick up in Q3

Strong WEEE collection volumes reported in Q3 as household waste recycling centres are reopened.

A remarkable total of 133,427 tonnes of household WEEE was reported in Q3 this year, which is more than twice the volume recorded in the previous quarter.

Unsurprisingly the biggest increase (169%!) compared to Q2 volume was recorded across household waste recycling centres (HWRCs), an increase due to the fact that in the summer HWRCs were gradually reopening. Q3 2020 is 1% higher than the volume of household WEEE collected over the same period in 2019. Some positive numbers.

If we look at specific streams, volumes for Large appliances and Cooling appliances were very strong in Q3 with increases of 12% and 3% respectively, compared with the same period last year.

It is impossible to quantify what volume of WEEE was discarded in the general waste or fly tipped during the first lockdown while the majority of HWRCs were shut to the public. But the large volume of household WEEE recorded in Q3 2020 would suggest that a lot of people waited for the end of restrictions to properly dispose of their WEEE.

Progress against collection target

However, combined figures for the three quarters show that overall a disappointing 331,989 tonnes of household WEEE have been collected so far this year. This represents 67% of the UK WEEE collection target of 497,338 tonnes, set by Defra in March, when at Q3 we would hope to reach at least 75%.

After an encouraging Q1 in 2020 (9% higher than Q1 2019), which was a period virtually not impacted by COVID-19, WEEE collections in the second quarter were badly hit by the introduction of local restrictions across the devolved nations. Household WEEE collections reported in Q2 2020 were only 52% of those in the same period in 2019.

The prospect for Q4 figures is not great due to the new tiered system and further lockdowns that have been implemented are likely to have an impact on collections. In addition, the period covering October to December is historically the least performing of the year. Government data for Q4 2020 is expected to be released in February 2021.

Although Defra revised the collection target in anticipation of the impact of COVID-19, these figures confirm the need for a compliance fee this year. 

Compliance fee and DTS

Two proposals were submitted to Defra for the WEEE compliance fee, one from Valpak and one from the JTA, both considering the impact of COVID-19 on their proposed compliance fee methodology

The industry is now eagerly waiting for Defra to announce the successful methodology and the chosen administrator to manage the compliance fee. We are expecting to hear from Defra around February 2021.

The proportion of household WEEE captured across HWRCs is going down year and year (70% in 2017, 65% in 2018 and 62% in 2019). With changes to the Distributor Take-back Scheme (DTS) less than a month away, the predominance of HWRCs in the total WEEE collection figures might reduce further as consumers start to return more unwanted electricals in stores.

To find out more about the requirements of retailers for WEEE take-back, and how Ecosurety can help, please click here.

Astonishing volume of EEE placed on the market

2020 has been an extremely unusual and challenging year and the volume of EEE placed on the UK market also reflects these unprecedented times. An astonishing volume of 415,314 tonnes of household EEE was reported in Q3 2020, which constitutes a growth of 22% against Q3 2019. It is also the biggest volume of EEE recorded in any quarter since Q4 2015. EEE volume is up 5.5% after the first three quarters of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.

These numbers underline the impact COVID-19 has had on the time we spend at home for work and/or entertainment. It will be interesting to see what Defra makes of this increase in the volume of EEE when setting the collection target for 2021.

To discuss how the latest WEEE collection figure impact you, please contact our team.


Clement Gaubert

Head of operations

As Head of operations, Clement plays a critical role within Ecosurety, overseeing our technical and procurement teams across the three regulations of packaging, batteries and WEEE. He is particularly passionate about expanding our collection network to handle greater volumes of recycling and driving change for good to transform the WEEE and batteries market in the long-term.


Written by Clement Gaubert Published 03/12/2020 Topics WEEE
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