The Environment Agency is investigating an apparent disparity in figures outlining the amount of WEEE collected for recycling – with new data suggesting that the UK could have fallen short of its collection target.
Last month, the government’s business minister Matthew Hancock announced that the UK had exceeded its target to collect 490,000 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in 2014 – the first year since new regulations on WEEE recycling were brought into effect (see letsrecycle.com story).
The Department’s figures were based on the amount of WEEE evidence recorded by compliance schemes at the WEEE settlement centre. This data suggested that some 491,007 tonnes of WEEE had been collected and treated across the year.
However, the Environment Agency last week published data detailing how much WEEE was treated by Approved Authorised Treatment Facility (AATF) operators – who are responsible for issuing WEEE evidence.
The provisional data from the Agency indicated that a total of 481,263 tonnes of WEEE was reported as recycled by AATFs, which if correct would suggest that the UK was in fact around 10,000 tonnes short of meeting its overall WEEE collection target for 2014.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), the government department which oversees the UK’s WEEE regulations, confirmed to letsrecycle.com that work is currently being carried out to assess how a difference between the two figures has arisen.
She added that some of the disparity may have been caused by a delay in the submission of data from some AATF operators – but that the Environment Agency is to investigate further to establish the exact cause of the difference in the figures.
She said: “The Environment Agency is currently investigating the variance between WEEE received at AATFs and WEEE collected by PCSs highlighted in the data sets recently published by Environment Agency.
“We know that some of this variance is down to late or missing returns from AATFs and the remaining variance is being investigated with AATFs as part of the EA’s desktop monitoring prior to final publication of the UK data, which will likely lead to resubmissions of AATF data.”
The new WEEE regulations, which came into effect from January 2104 replaced a system of ‘evidence trading’ between schemes, instead giving them each an individual target based on the volume of new products their members have placed onto the market.
Under the new system, schemes that are unable to meet their target can instead opt to pay a ‘compliance fee’ rather than purchasing WEEE from other compliance schemes at a potentially inflated cost.