The Q1 2020 WEEE collection results released yesterday present a positive picture compared to previous years, but it is a trend unlikely to continue.
The figures show strong results against the annual target, with five categories exceeding the expected quarterly milestone and another six falling only just short. Category 1, Large Household Appliances and Category 14, Photovoltaic Panels, performed particularly well.
Targets revised down
It should be noted however that the draft annual targets for 2020 were revised down in March by a total of 40,637 tonnes, to take into account concerns around the impact of COVID-19 on WEEE collections.
The total revised target approved by Ministers now stands at 5,149 tonnes less that the total amount of household WEEE collected in 2019.
If we forget about the targets for a moment and consider only the tonnage of WEEE collected in every Q1 since 2010 (see the graph below), it is clear that 2020 has reported the most significant increase in Q1 collections since 2016. Sadly we are unlikely to see this trend continue, at least in the Q2 results.
We must take into account that we are yet to see the impact of COVID-19 be reflected in the collection results. With Council run household recycling sites closed for extended periods since the lockdown started in March, it is expected that collection figures may well plummet to new lows in the 2020 Q2 results.
A bleak outlook
Robbie Staniforth, head of policy at Ecosurety commented "It is pleasing to see a marked increase in collections in the first quarter compared to much lower collection rates during this period over the last two years. Although the overall uptick is due to the disproportional affect large domestic goods has on the total data, it is still pleasing to see a return to the higher collection levels of 2017."
"However, the outlook for 2020 is fairly bleak in terms of meeting targets. Quarter one saw very little impact of COVID19 on operations at household recycling sites. We know April and May will be fallow months as many sites either had to close or deprioritise the acceptance of WEEE items. It highlights just how reliant the UK WEEE compliance system is on council operated sites."
"It is clear that citizens need a greater diversity of options for disposing of old items to be reused or recycled.”
Funding to boost WEEE recycling and support industry
Last month we reported on two new initiatives launched by the WEEE Fund to boost collections of consumer waste and support recyclers and charities impacted by COVID-19. Initiatives such as these are required to help a sector that needs support and improvements.
Ecosurety proactively invests in and supports impactful projects that can improve UK recycling, if you would like to discuss how we can support a project to boost WEEE collections and recycling, please contact our team
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Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.