The European Recycling Platform (ERP) UK has published a report to look back over the last 10 years of waste electrical and electronic equipment recycling (WEEE), since the UK WEEE Directive was introduced.
It has also been 10 years since ERP started operating in the UK. ERP’s report looks at the decade which it said has “changed the compliance and recycling landscape dramatically.”
The UK WEEE Regulations were introduced in 2007 with the central aim of reducing the amount of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) ending up in landfill. ERP is a UK producer compliance scheme. It offers solutions which cover WEEE, batteries, and packaging recycling.
The report reflects on the impact the Regulations have had on producers, consumers, retailers, local authorities and waste treatment operators; and assesses the achievements to date and the key challenges and developments ahead.
Looking back, the report examines how ERP has been effective in introducing competition into compliance markets to improve quality and reduce costs. It also describes how ERP has worked with stakeholders and legislators to improve the WEEE system.
Umberto Raiteri, ERP CEO explains: “Through a positive collaborative approach, we’ve been able to participate in discussions based on experience and data, and we’ve been effective at sharing the learning, which is hugely appreciated by local and European legislators. Through our data collection, we’ve also been able to provide benchmarks on collection and return rates, which again is appreciated as it has helped to inform targets.”
The report also examines 10 years that have seen increased quality in the treatment of WEEE. As Dora Caria, ERP quality and audit manager comments: “WEEE treatment processes have become increasingly efficient in the last decade, with improved removal of regulated substances.”
Ten years on, the report found the UK has recycled over five million tonnes of WEEE. And, over 3.2 million fridges, and more than 17.6 million small appliances have been recycled by ERP UK.
The report looks at future challenges it terms of recycling electrical items. For example, how homeowners are accumulating more EEE, ”most of which is far smaller than a chunky CRT TV or washing machine.”
According to the report, this concern is ‘echoed’ by the Waste and Resources Action Plan (WRAP), which, in a survey earlier this year, found that 8 in 10 households are interested in returning used electricals to retailers through take-back and trade-in schemes.
The report goes on to explain that companies are increasingly looking to producer compliance schemes like ERP to help close the loop with recycled materials and be their circular economy partner, and to support their corporate social responsibility programmes.