20 October 2017 by Will Date

Defra consults on ‘open scope’ WEEE changes

Defra has launched a consultation on potential changes to the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) system, which will bring into effect ‘open scope’ requirements, changing the way that some types of WEEE are classified.

The consultation, which opened today (20 October) will incorporate changes necessary under the Open Scope requirements of the WEEE Directive, which was incorporated into UK law as part of the 2013 WEEE Regulations.

Defra has launched a consultation on proposed changes to the WEEE system

This essentially broadens the remit of the WEEE Regulations to cover all types of electrical equipment, including those not previously mentioned within the legislation.

This also includes a requirement to potentially categorise and report EEE and WEEE in six revised categories – compared to the 14 categories used in the current WEEE system.

Open scope

Defra has proposed three potential options for the implementation of the open scope requirements, which it claims will ‘minimise the costs to business as far as possible

These include:

  1. Allowing the existing WEEE Regulations to take effect, with the requirement to categorise and report EEE and WEEE in the six revised categories.
  2. Amending the 2013 WEEE Regulations to retain the current system of 14 categories with new flexibility to allocate products previously out of scope to one of the 14 categories.
  3. Amending the 2013 WEEE Regulations to move to the 6 categories, but utilising three additional sub-categories.

Further changes proposed within the consultation include making membership of the Producer Compliance Scheme Balancing Scheme compulsory to all compliance schemes.

The Balancing System, known as the PBS, was set up by schemes to deal collaboratively with requests from councils for the clearance of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) from CA sites where local authorities and schemes have been unable to agree a contract to deal with the material.

Since its establishment, membership of the PBS has been entirely voluntary for schemes. However, Defra has claimed that concerns have been raised by a number of stakeholders that the “financial burden” of dealing with requests from local authorities is not “shared proportionately across the entire producer community given that some PCSs have chosen not to join the PBS.”

Balancing system

“Without the continued confidence amongst its members of its commercial and economic benefit the PBS could be at risk,” Defra has said in the consultation documents, adding: “We propose putting the PBS on a statutory footing, requiring all PCSs (approved to fulfil household WEEE obligations) to be members. This will be cost neutral, as PCSs are already obliged, under regulation 28, to fully cover the costs of collection, treatment, recovery and environmentally sound disposal of WEEE deposited at designated collection facilities (DCF).

“A statutory PBS would simply disburse the cost equitably amongst all PCSs when a local authority is unable to agree a contract with a specified PCS and therefore requests a collection under regulation 34.”

Stakeholders have also been asked for their views on whether the 2013 WEEE Regulations were effective in meeting the objectives set out when the legislation was first tabled.

The 2013 regulations introduced a system which includes mandatory targets for schemes ‘compliance fee’ for payable by those who are unable to meet their obligations. Government introduced the new system to address concerns from producers that the” cost of compliance with the regulations did not reflect the true cost of recycling”.

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