Defra is consulting on two options for a mandatory waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) producer compliance scheme balancing system (PBS).
Competing proposals have been put forward by the WEEE Schemes Forum and another organisation, WEEE Allocation Scheme Ltd.
WEEE Schemes Forum’s proposal would largely replicate the voluntary PBS format that has previously been overseen by the consultancy firm Anthesis.
The proposal from WEEE Allocation Scheme Ltd is also broadly similar to previous versions of the PBS but is intended to be more ‘transparent’ around costs. The organisation has put forward AECOM as its preferred administrator for the scheme.
The PBS is a mechanism set up by compliance schemes to deal collaboratively with requests from councils for collection of WEEE. It is used if councils have been unable to agree with a compliance scheme to collect the material.
Councils are entitled to the free offtake of household WEEE, funded by producers of electronic goods through the producer compliance system. Some councils have reported that demand for compliance scheme demand for WEEE has dropped, particularly from CA sites in locations where logistics costs are high.
If a council has been unable to reach agreement with a scheme on the collection of WEEE, they are able to use ‘Regulation 34’, a backstop which exists under the WEEE regulations to guarantee collection of WEEE from local authorities.
The PBS acts as a centralised system to make handling these Regulation 34 requests more manageable for both schemes and councils. An initial 23 compliance schemes set up the PBS in 2016. Costs are shared between the members of the scheme based on their overall market share.
Until now the system has been a voluntary arrangement between schemes, which some have opted not to take part in, but legal changes brought in this year make the PBS mandatory. Under the changes to the law, Defra is required to set a new PBS system every three years.
According to WEEE Allocation Scheme Ltd, under the previous system no details surrounding winning Regulation 34 bids were made available to PCS members, which it said made it difficult for schemes to budget for their share of costs in advance.
Under its proposed system, schemes would be notified of the total value of a winning bid – without the winner being disclosed – to provide further details of the costs involved.
WEEE Schemes Forum
WEEE Schemes Forum’s proposal is based largely upon the “tried and tested” methodology which has been used to date involving a system of anonymous bidding to handle Regulation 34 requests.
Under this system a compliance scheme receiving a Regulation 34 request from a local authority can choose to either fulfil the request or submit it to the PBS to be handled collectively.
Other members of the PBS can bid for the work – or the cost of collection is shared across all members.
WEEE Schemes Forum is also proposing a series of ‘enhancements’ to the system, which includes an online bidding platform to make the process easier for participants.
The consultation closes on 15 April with an approved PBS and PBS operator expected to be announced by 1 August. From the date of approval, PCSs will have 30 days to join the PBS.