Delayed WEEE consultation - what to expect

The consultation for reforming the WEEE producer responsibility system was previously planned to be released this year, but has been delayed until early 2022.

An update from Defra explained the delay was due to delays in data gathering, and the priority of other consultations. The aim of the WEEE reforms, as stated in the 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy, is to “incentivise more sustainable product design, increase recycling and ensure alignment with the wider Extended Producer Responsibility framework”.

The last legislative change in the WEEE sector was in 2013, and since then it has been apparent that a number of broad issues will need to be resolved in future legislation.

Whilst we won’t know the exact details of the consultation until publication, we know that current considerations include eco-modulation, reuse and improving the B2B system.

Here are three other topics we expect to see in the consultation:

Kerbside collections

We know a particular focus of the consultation will surround a proposal to introduce doorstep collections of householder waste electricals, and Defra have commissioned a study for this too.

Although this would be a clear way to increase WEEE tonnage being recycled, and also decrease householder hoarding, the expense to producers will also need to be carefully considered.

Producer responsibilities and online-market places

It is more than likely that online-marketplaces will have some role to play in the new system, and may have to offer take-back.

Lack of enforcement for tackling free-riding, particularly within online sales and producers operating around the de minimis, means suggestions to tackle this will be present - particularly instilling codes of practice for e-retailers and proactive checking of EPR compliance.

Losses to informal actors and leakage

Unreported and unobligated WEEE treatment is thought to be over 50%. Capturing more B2B non-obligated WEEE will likely feature in the consultations, potentially via providing new routes for obligated e-waste such as opening up HWRCs.

This in turn will reduce the UK’s reporting reliance on substantiated estimates. Other losses in the WEEE system happen via the residual stream, hoarding, scrap, informal recyclers and exports, all of which we anticipate will present in the consultation.

Finally, used EEE and re-use is currently not captured in the WEEE reporting framework. These activities will likely be formalized in new legislation. Circularity will be high on the agenda for both regimes – with re-use and reparability targets a possibility.

If you have any questions or would like more information on upcoming legislative changes, please get in touch.

Louisa Goodfellow

Policy Manager

As Policy advisor Louisa provides key support to our team, including preparing reports on environmental policy issues and maintaining awareness of new developments. As such she will often be found coordinating responses to policy consultations, advocating policy positions and providing internal guidance to current legislation.

Written by Louisa Goodfellow Published 22/11/2021 Topics Consultations
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