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UK remains on track to hit WEEE targets for first time in seven years

Data published by Defra on the collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) for the first three quarters of 2023 has shown that the UK remains on track to hit its collection targets for 2023. 

WEEE
WEEE targets are on track to be hit for the first time in six years (picture: Shutterstock)

In the third quarter (July-September) of 2023 the UK collected 120,999 tonnes, largely similar to the 119,000 and 118,000 collected in the previous two quarters.

This means the UK has so far collected 359,289 tonnes of WEEE in the year to September, against an overall target of 472,070, which is just over 76% of the target, putting the UK slightly ahead.

For the same period in 2022, the UK was 69% of the way towards its target, which was put down to the cost-of-living crisis (see letsrecycle.com story).

However, the data shows that three categories look to be off track for meeting the 2023 targets gas discharge lamps and LED light sources, automatic dispensers and large household appliances.

If this continues into Q4, it will be the first time the UK has hit its WEEE targets since 2016.

Targets

While the targets are slightly ahead, compliance schemes explained that while encouraging, the industry should remain cautious.

Louise Grantham, chief executive of REPIC, said: “Total household WEEE Collections to Q3 2023 are 1% ahead of the same period in 2022. Collections in most categories are ahead of last year – Cooling, Display and SMW collections being 1%, 8% and 5% ahead respectively, with GDL and LHA falling by 3% and 4%, respectively.

“Total WEEE collections are 2% ahead of the pro-rata 2023 WEEE collections target. There are now only slight shortfalls against the pro-rata target in two categories – LHA and GDL, 4% and 2%, respectively, with all other categories being either close to or slightly above target.

“This is despite total EEE POM to Q3 2023 being 5% behind the same period in 2022. EEE POM has fallen in most categories, the impact being offset by a 16% increase in the amount of PV Panels placed on the market. The most notable reduction is in Display Equipment, which is 21% lower than the same period in 2022. This highlights that there are many different factors that affect the amount of EEE placed on the market and the WEEE made available for collection, there is not always a direct correlation between the two.”

Caution

Echoing the need for caution, Clement Gaubert of Wastecare said: “The Q3 WEEE data confirms the positive trend seen in previous quarters. Although we need to remain cautious, with only one quarter left WEEE collection targets might be met for the first time in six years.

“Category 11 Display continues to perform well with collections 8% better than 2022. This category is comfortably ahead of its target (81%) which was also the case at the same time last year (78%). This would suggest that the 2023 target was not challenging enough which can be an issue as Schemes will not need the excess waste Display. We expect Defra to consider this trend when setting the 2024 target for Display.

“Defra will publish its long-delayed consultation on the reform of the WEEE Regulations in the new year which will include proposals on alternative metrics to measure success of the WEEE system. We look forward to reviewing these.”

Lighting

On lamp collection in particular, Nigel Harvey of Recolight, said: “The Q3 lamp collection data shows that the category 13 WEEE stream is running at 98% of the pro-rata target.  Given that collections in Q4 are usually lower than other quarters, this means it is likely that the compliance fee will be used for this stream for 2023.  But missing a WEEE collection target should not necessarily be seen as a problem.

“Because of the way the system works, the ideal WEEE target is always one that is just unachievable. That reduces the risk that WEEE may be collected which no WEEE scheme needs to meet their target, and also avoids high compliance fee payments.  The 2023 lamp collection target appears well placed to meet that objective.”

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