Agency welcomes launch of electrical reuse standard

By Will Date

The Environment Agency and BIS have welcomed the official launch of a reuse specification for used electrical items which is expected to make it easier to identify illegal shipments of WEEE.

The PAS 141 specification has been developed by industry experts working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and will be awarded to treatment facilities who comply with best practice in preparing used electrical items for reuse.

Environment Agency head of illegals and waste, Mat Crocker, welcomed the official launch of the PAS 141 standard
Environment Agency head of illegals and waste, Mat Crocker, welcomed the official launch of the PAS 141 standard

The standard was officially launched yesterday (February 27) following the appointment of assessment body Oakdene Hollins to issue accreditation to treatment facilities. It had originally been unveiled in 2011 (see letsrecycle.com story), but could not be rolled out across the industry until an accreditation body was appointed.

Oakdene Hollins will audit treatment operators compliance with the standard on testing, dismantling, refurbishing and transporting used equipment, with Valpak appointed to administer the scheme.

Currently it is illegal to export waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) overseas, although functioning items can be sent abroad for sale as reusable electrical goods.

It is thought that PAS 141 could make it easier for regulators to identify illegal exports of WEEE which are often masked as legal shipments of electrical goods for reuse, as well as reassuring end users over quality.

Illegal export

At the launch event for the specification at the headquarters of IT recycling company RDC in Essex, the Environment Agencys head of illegals and waste, Mat Crocker, claimed that it would play a vital role in the battle against illegal waste exports.

He said: We are very serious about tackling serious organised crime. If waste crime happens, it undercuts legitimate business and impacts on investment at the good end of the industry.

WEEE Conference

Proposed changes to the UK’s WEEE system are set to be discussed at a one-day conference in London on May 1 2013 hosted by letsrecycle.com, entitled Reshaping the WEEE Regulations. To find out more, click here.

The standard has two benefits: one it helps us as a regulator combat illegal export of WEEE and it contributes to the reuse of materials that can legitimately be reused, leading to a more efficient use of resources.

With PAS 141 we have something can help to deal with illegal export, but it is something we cant do by ourselves. I see this is a partnership where we stand with the legitimate industry and we do everything we can to stop unacceptable waste crime from happening.

Mr Crocker added that the Agency would use PAS 141 certification as a benchmark against which it would measure exporters of used electrical items.

BIS

Chris Pook, head of green economy team at BIS, praised the work of the industry to develop the certification scheme, adding that it would help the development of reuse markets overseas.

Treatment facility operators will be audited on their treatment standards
Treatment facility operators will be audited on their treatment standards

He said: Im pleased to be part of the formal launch of PAS 141. I understand its been quite a long journey but clearly one that was well worth making.

PAS 141 will provide reassurance to consumers and the collectors of discarded products that all items sent to accredited operators will be properly tested and this is essential if we are to build this market overseas.

European Union waste shipment guidelines call for a test to differentiate between reuse and the illegal exports of waste but fail to specify what test is required. The specifications creators say that PAS 141 sets out the tests to fill this gap.

The standard is being presented to the EU Standards Committee as the basis for a Europe-wide standard for reuse, ahead of changes being made to the WEEE system that are being made following the Recast of the WEEE Directive.

Commenting on the launch, Gary Griffiths, head of sustainability at RDC and chair of the PAS 141 Technical Advisory Committee, said: This is an exciting day. PAS 141 is a British first that leads the way in setting best practice standards on WEEE reuse that benefit consumers, business, government, regulators and reuse organisations.

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