Defra consults on WEEE compliance fee for 2021

Defra has launched a consultation on the compliance fee methodology for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) it will adopt for the current year.

Two options for the WEEE compliance fee system are being consulted on (picture: Shutterstock)

The fee is an alternative mechanism used by compliance schemes and obligated business if they have insufficient recycling evidence to meet their WEEE collection targets for the year.

The consultation is on two proposals for the compliance fee and an administrator, which have been put forward for 2021 by compliance scheme Valpak and the Joint Trade Association (JTA), a group of product-focused trade associations which work on policy issues around producer responsibility.

A JTA-proposed methodology has been used to determine the fee in four consecutive years. Ministers approved the proposal put forward by the JTA for 2020 in February (see letsrecycle.com story), and the fee raised £963,000 to support the activities of not-for-profit organisation Material Focus, which promotes WEEE recycling.

Delay

Separately, it is believed the long-awaited consultation on reforming the UK’s WEEE regulations could be delayed even further. Though it was initially expected in the second quarter of 2021, Chris Preston, the deputy director for resources and waste at Defra, told the Resourcing the Future conference in London on 20 October it would launch “this year”.

However, last week a meeting of the WEEE Forum, a not-for-profit international association representing 40 WEEE producer responsibility organisations across the globe, heard from Defra that the consultation would open by the second quarter of 2022. It is thought that Defra may be focusing at present on aspects of the Resources and Waste Strategy around extended producer responsibility and consistency in local authority recycling and waste services.

When contacted by letsrecycle.com, a Defra spokesperson did not give any timing details, saying that: “The consultation will be launched in due course.”

‘Fine tuning’

A spokesperson for the JTA told letsrecycle.com that the aim of its proposal for 2021 was to “build on its past successes by fine tuning our system”.

Under the proposal, a Funding Panel replaces the Advisory Board, the terms of reference would be “strengthened”, and sub-panels would be established “where necessary” to ensure relevant expertise was available.

Three core strands of funding – “insights, investment, and inspiration” – would remain, the spokesperson said, while “enhanced” reporting of fund spending would be developed.

Francis Thomas, chair of the JTA, said the overall WEEE collection landscape remained “uncertain”. He said he believed it was important to continue to review collections throughout 2021 and consider whether any final adjustments were needed at the end.

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Mr Thomas said: “2021 WEEE collection targets were set during a further national lockdown when the potential impact on 2021 WEEE collections was unknown.

“WEEE collections in Q1 2021 were affected, particularly in the early part due to lockdowns and collection site closures. However, they are now recovering and Q1 and Q2 data indicates that collections are now returning to levels close to the target levels for the three WEEE streams – within 10% of the targets.”

‘Changes and improvements’

Commenting on their own proposal for 2021, a spokesperson for Valpak told letsrecycle.com: “Reconomy Group company Valpak have included many similar elements to previous years. However, we have made a few key changes and improvements.

“Firstly, we have amended our fee escalator mechanism to be based on a scheme’s shortfall relative to its own individual target, rather than the schemes shortfall relative to the national target. This change was made based on the consultation feedback last year from Defra.

“Secondly, we have improved on our proposal for the robust administration and verification of the fee by engaging with two well respected consultancies, Anthesis and Oakdene Hollins, within the WEEE industry. Anthesis will undertake the administration of the fee, and Oakdene Hollins will provide independent oversight to give all stakeholders assurance of the fee.”

Valpak has also included a contingency formula should Covid-19 impact collections in the fourth quarter of 2021 “as it did last year in Q2”. While Valpak says they do not believe the contingency formula will be required, they note “it is important to acknowledge the potential for Covid-19 to impact WEEE collections in the remainder of the year”.

Related link
Consultation on WEEE Compliance Fee Methodology 2021


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