Defra consults on WEEE Scheme Forum’s PBS proposals

Defra has opened a consultation on a proposal from the WEEE Scheme Forum (WSF) to continue the operation of the existing producer compliance scheme balancing system (PBS).

The PBS is a system to ensure that local authorities can receive free collection of WEEE from civic amenity sites

The PBS is a mechanism set up by compliance schemes to deal collaboratively with requests from councils for the collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

It is used if councils have been unable to agree a contract for a compliance scheme to collect the material.

The WSF, the UK’s WEEE compliance scheme trade association, has overseen the PBS since 2019, when the government made it mandatory for compliance schemes to join (see letsrecycle.com story).

The WSF appointed consultancy Anthesis to operate the scheme as an independent third party.

The existing PBS runs until 19 July. Defra commenced a review of the current arrangements on 13 December 2021 and invited proposals for changes to the current arrangements by 31 March.

Defra today (05 May) says it received a single proposal to continue operating the PBS from the WSF, “with some detailed modifications designed to improve the operability of the existing arrangements.”

The consultation, which seeks views on the proposal from the likes of producers, WEEE treatment facilities and local authorities, will close on 2 June and can be accessed here.

Secretary of State George Eustice will approve the existing PBS “with or without modification” before 19 July, Defra says.

‘Cost-efficiency’

Nigel Harvey is chief executive of lighting compliance scheme Recolight and chair of the WSF. He suggested the proposal did not differ too greatly from the existing scheme.

Nigel Harvey is chief executive of producer compliance scheme Recolight and chair of the WSF

“The changes are not particularly major because we’ve developed and enhanced the PBS over the years anyway. Frankly, it’s fairly successful,” Mr Harvey said.

He added: “We’ve put in a few changes to enhance cost efficiency, but nothing major.”

Mr Harvey suggested the most significant change was a tweak to the way local authorities placed multiple streams of WEEE on the PBS, making it easier for compliance schemes to bid for all the streams.

Mr Harvey said he did not expect the proposal to be subject to any major challenges during the consultation process, though he suggested there may be calls for greater transparency around information. Mr Harvey suggested the WSF was cautious about sharing data between its members so it could not be accused of acting like a cartel.

Technical enhancements

A spokesperson for compliance scheme REPIC, one member of the WSF, told letsrecycle.com the existing PBS had been “successful” in ensuring that all local authority WEEE is collected and financed on a market share basis.

The company said the compliance scheme members of the current PBS all supported its continuation, while the “technical enhancements” proposed by the WSF would be of benefit “to all relevant stakeholders”.

The existing PBS is operated by a third party, the spokesperson noted, independent of both the WSF and compliance schemes, “which ensures confidentiality and compliance with competition law.”

Related link
Producer Compliance Scheme (PCS) Balancing System Review 2022 

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