Two projects to assess the capture and processing of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in the UK have been awarded funding via the WEEE Producer compliance fee fund.
The projects will seek to shed light on WEEE which is not being captured through the producer compliance system – and therefore not counted towards overall WEEE recycling targets – as well as the removal of items from local authority collection facilities.
Sustainability consultancy Anthesis will be investigating the movement of the estimated 139,000 tonnes of unreported EEE that is not treated via the official WEEE regime and therefore not financed by the producers via the UK WEEE regulations every year.
UK waste consultancy 360 Environmental, in partnership with the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC), will be investigating the level and nature of unauthorised removal of WEEE from local authority sites, which WRAP estimates to be close to 100,000 tonnes per year.
Funding has come through the WEEE Compliance Fee fund for 2015, through which £46,000 was available to support research projects for strategic research.
The fee was established as a means for Producer Compliance Schemes to meet some of their obligations on behalf of producers of electronic equipment as an alternative to directly collecting WEEE – if they were unable to secure sufficient tonnages to meet their targets.
A panel of three judges – Defra’s Graeme Vickery, Margaret Bates from the University of Northampton and President of the Charted Institution for Waste Management, and Susanne Baker from techUK, the electronics industry trade body – assessed the project ideas and tenders to carry out the work.
Both studies will build on WRAP’s recent EEE Flows study which provides the latest estimate of the volumes of electrical and electronics being placed on the market and the associated waste that is produced.
Dr Richard Peagam, principle consultant at Anthesis, said: “The role of technology in building a more resilient and sustainable society is crucial, but the increasingly disparate way that we use it takes end-of-life equipment further away from traditional routes for management and accounting.
“This research will help to further understand how the electrical equipment that we don’t know about is handled and treated once it has been used, to inform the conversation on how to manage the proliferation and migration of technology into our daily lives and industry, responsibly.”
Both studies are expected to conclude late Summer 2017.
For an in depth discussion on the future of the WEEE system, secure your place at the WEEE Conference 2017.