Free WEEE home collections launched in North-East

26 February 2010

Households in Scarborough have become some of the first in the UK to benefit from free collections of WEEE from their households, under a "unique" partnership involving the town's council, a compliance scheme operator and a local reprocessor.

And, the company behind the scheme, Gateshead-based compliance scheme operator Weeeco, claims it has identified 380 other reprocessors nationwide which could operate under a similar model, which emphasises reuse ahead of recycling and dealing with material as locally as possible.

The free household collection service is available for all types of WEEEUnder the initiative, residents can contact Scarborough borough council or reprocessor RB Markets directly to arrange collections of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) they have left outside their house, with the scheme's operators expecting it to be particularly significant in terms of collecting small WEEE.

The collection of the waste equipment is undertaken by Scarborough-based RB Markets, which then takes it to its approved authorised treatment facility (AATF) for reuse, with material that is not fit for reuse being sent for recycling at Wincanton's Billingham AATF.

Explaining the benefits of the service, Weeeco's compliance manager Vince Eckermann highlighted the fact that RB Markets was focused on maximising reuse from products, noting that "they do significant amounts of reuse in all categories of WEEE".

He also told that, with the initiative being paid for by the members of the two compliance schemes Weeeco operates, Northern Compliance and WEEE Light, when they bought the recycling evidence from the process, "it's still cheaper for the producer than going through a CA site."

And, he claimed that "the WEEE we're getting is not the stuff that's being taken to the CA sites, its small WEEE.

Mr Eckermann noted that the scheme reflected the encouragement given to producers under 2007 amendments to the WEEE regulations for them to collect WEEE directly from households, describing it as "beyond a pilot. I'd say its an example of best practice".

Earlier this week, the issue of encouraging producers to fund collection from households was raised in European Parliament discussions on the recast of the WEEE Directive (see story).


While other schemes offering free collection of WEEE from households have been launched elsewhere in the UK (see story), Mr Eckermann claimed that the Weeeco initiative differed in that it looked to reuse equipment locally.

"The key issue is we're collecting in Scarborough and reusing in Scarborough," he said, contrasting this to other schemes which, he claimed, involved significantly more journeys for equipment once it had been collected.

Weeeco is already involved in similar schemes in Wales and Durham, but Mr Eckermann noted that the Scarborough scheme was the first time it had got a local authority involved.

"The thing that's unique in this model is we have got the local authority involved in this process," he said, adding that "that's one of the difficult things to do - to get buy-in from local authorities".

In particular, Weeeco stressed the cost savings councils could make from not having to collect bulky items such as fridges when they were dumped by residents.

And, the company also claimed the scheme's emphasis on reuse was particularly beneficial in directing working equipment that had been discarded by more affluent households to neighbouring less well-off areas.

Mr Eckermann noted that the company has identified 380 other AATFs nationwide, mainly working as social enterprises, which could "feed into this model".