The UK will meet higher WEEE collection targets set by the EU through improved classification of business and household electrical goods, the head of environmental regulation at BIS has claimed.
Speaking at the WEEE Conference in London yesterday (June 4), Steven Andrews of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills told delegates that meeting higher target of 45% for collection of waste electrical goods looked “very achievable”.
Mr Andrews was joined by the Environment Agency’s Chris Grove and WEEE Scheme Forum chair Nigel Harvey at the morning panel session, which was hosted by letsrecycle.com editor Steve Eminton.
In his overview of developments in the WEEE sector since January 2014, Mr Andrews said that changes to the compliance fee system had brought estimated savings of around £20 million to producers.
He added that both EU collection and producer compliance scheme targets had been achieved, while the next step was to collect 45% of all electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market from 2016 – and potentially 65% by 2019.
Mr Andrews explained that much of the current progress in the WEEE system had been driven by greater producer compliance, as well as policy driven by ‘dual use’ to reflect the European Commission interpretation.
Definitions of household and non-household WEEE were amended after the UK’s classification of household and business WEEE were found to be at odds with that held by the Commission.
The difference centred on the interpretation of ‘dual use’ WEEE, which includes items such as PCs or television screens, which could conceivably be used in business or by consumers. In the UK, the definition was also qualified by the quantity of WEEE being presented for collection.
Commenting on the reclassification, Mr Andrews said: “Dual use is a very tricky issue and one that has been forced on us. We think there’s a difference between something built for a B2B and B2C market and I think we can still use that distinction in some dual use.”
The panel also discussed the use of “substantiated estimates” as contributions to the UK WEEE collection target at EU level, which have been implemented under the Recast Directive.
Mr Harvey said: “Consumer behaviours change so we can’t assume that 500,000 tonnes in the light iron stream that was there last time will be there again. It will be better to see some of that WEEE going through the right system, but it’s very hard to communicate to consumers what they do with their waste washing machine.”
And, speaking on behalf of the Environment Agency, Mr Grove spoke about the importance of accurate data reporting and ensuring that evidence is correctly issued.
He added that WEEE should be treated in a ‘compliant manner’ and rejected claims that cuts to the Agency would force waste enforcement down the agenda.
He said: “We will stamp out waste crime using an intelligence led approach looking to it as a whole waste issue. This will help us to map WEEE flows.
“From our perspective Duty of Care is not working as well as it could be. We are looking to get more controls to ensure Duty of Care is complied with and to stop illegal exports of WEEE. We are going to focus on high risk operators.”