Provisional data released by the Environment Agency suggests collection targets for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) were missed in the second quarter of 2020.
The figures show 64,039 tonnes of household WEEE was collected by producer compliance schemes between April and June 2020. This represents a 52% fall from the same period last year as parts of the industry were hit by the pandemic.
When combined with the Q1 2020 data, a total of 197,602 tonnes of household WEEE has been collected this year. This represents 36.7% of the initial collection target of 537,976 tonnes, set by Defra in early March (see letsrecycle.com story).
The table below shows a full breakdown for each category of WEEE. The data is still provisional; the Environment Agency says the data has not yet been validated or quality assessed by the agencies and as such may be inaccurate or misleading. The agencies will conduct thorough monitoring and assessment of the data during August.
Industry sources had warned earlier this month that the targets were unlikely to be met, with many believing lockdown restrictions would have had a significant impact (see letsrecycle.com story).
Louise Grantham, chief executive of compliance scheme REPIC, told letsrecycle.com: “We welcome the release of provisional Q2 2020 household WEEE collections data by the Environment Agency.
“As we were expecting this shows a significant reduction in the amount of WEEE available for collection during the lockdown period, with total household WEEE collections being 48% of those reported in Q1 2020 and 52% of those in the same period in 2019.
“Although collections through most routes reduced, the most significant reduction was in collections from designated collection facilities, which were 38% and 37%, respectively, of those reported in Q1 2020 and Q2 2019. This was primarily due to the temporary closure of many local authority HWRCs at the end of March.”
It had been hoped the reopening of household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) would boost the figures, but it has not proved to be enough.
Mrs Grantham said: “Some local authority HWRCs started to re-open to the public for WEEE collections during May, with more reopening in June. Most HWRCs are now accepting WEEE again, albeit operating with social distancing in place and therefore potentially with restrictions on capacity.
“Retailer WEEE collections were those most unaffected by the lockdown period, with collections being 75% of those reported in Q1 2020 and 90% of those in Q2 2019.
“There will undoubtedly be some catch up in collections following the re-opening of most activities; however, this remains unpredictable. The WEEE collections data for Q3 2020 will provide us with a better indication of the impact of Covid-19 on achieving the 2020 collection targets.”
Targets for the collection of WEEE have been missed in three consecutive years (see letsrecycle.com story).
“There will undoubtedly be some catch up in collections following the re-opening of most activities”
If compliance schemes and obligated businesses have insufficient recycling evidence to meet their WEEE collection targets for the year, they must usually pay a compliance fee. However, the coronavirus pandemic has led to uncertainty. In June Defra confirmed it would consider the impact Covid-19 has had when setting a compliance fee methodology for 2020 (see letsrecycle.com story).
Collection of WEEE in the first quarter of 2020 appeared broadly on track to meet initial targets, with 134,610 tonnes of household WEEE collected between January and March 2020 (see letsrecycle.com story). Data from the first quarter of 2020 covers the period between January and March, and so only accounts for about one week of the coronavirus-enforced lockdown.
Nigel Harvey is chief executive of compliance scheme Recolight. He told letsrecycle.com: “The Q2 data confirms that collections across all categories were much lower than Q1.
“It inevitably makes achievement of the 2020 targets very unlikely, implying that many producer compliance schemes may need to use the compliance fee this year.
“But given the financial pressures faced by many producers as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, design of the 2020 compliance fee is crucial.
“The fee will need to avoid excessive charges that could otherwise arise as a result of Covid-19, whilst at the same time maintaining an incentive to collect. That is a delicate balancing act.”
Louise Grantham and Nigel Harvey will both be speaking at the WEEE Conference on 30th September 2020. This year’s conference will take place online and tickets can be purchased for just £95 + VAT. You can view the full day programme here.