Data on the collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) for the first three quarters of 2019 suggests recycling targets could be missed for a third consecutive year.
Figures covering the volume of WEEE collected for recycling for the third quarter of 2019 (July to September) were released by the Environment Agency yesterday, 1 December.
As outlined in the table below the figures show a total of 131,190 tonnes of WEEE was collected during the third quarter of the year, up from 126,366 in the same period last year.
With 245,227 tonnes already collected in the first two quarters of 2019, the UK has so far collected 376,417 tonnes against a target of 550,577, equivalent to 68 per cent.
Louise Grantham, finance director at WEEE producer compliance scheme REPIC, said: “As with the previous quarter’s collection figures, the latest household WEEE data shows that challenges remain in achieving the 2019 household WEEE collection targets across most WEEE categories.
“Whilst it is encouraging that household cooling collections are now running on target, overall it looks likely that the UK will fall short of the target in most other categories. EEE POM has increased; however, this is mostly likely to be related to the move to open scope.”
Failure to meet targets set by DEFRA would result in some compliance schemes having to pay a compliance fee on behalf of their producer members. The exact methodology for this is currently out for consultation (see letsrecycle.com story).
Sources of the data include local authority civic amenity sites.
To be on track to meet 2019 targets, a collection rate of around 134,000 tonnes of material per quarter would be required, meaning each quarter’s figures have been short.
For 2019, the overall goal for compliance schemes is to collect 550,577 tonnes of WEEE, a 12-percentage point increase when compared to the total amount of household WEEE collected in 2018.
John Redmayne, managing director of compliance scheme European Recycling Platform, said: “It is disappointing that all streams of WEEE collection will fall below the targets for the year.
“Volumes almost invariably crash in Q4. Even at 76 per cent progress to target it would appear that cooling as well would fail to meet the target.”
In total, compliance schemes have collected the equivalent of 68 per cent of the overall target so far this year, and with data from the fourth quarter traditionally lower, it is likely that for some schemes a compliance fee will be needed to make up the shortfall.
Targets for the collection of WEEE have been missed in consecutive years, and more than £10 million in ‘compliance fee’ money has been collected from schemes on behalf of producers unable to meet their targets in 2017 and 2018.
While the overall percentage of WEEE collected for the year is only at 68 per cent, 76 per cent of the target total of cooling appliances has been collected.
Nevertheless, Mr Redmayne was not optimistic that the target for cooling appliances would be met in 2019, saying that historical data showed the volume of cooling appliances collected dropped in the fourth quarter.
He said: “Even though cold is one per cent above the target we know from historical data that it will struggle to meet the targets.”
The UK WEEE Regulations were introduced in 2007 with the aim of reducing the amount of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) ending up in landfill.
However, confusion can arise over the differences between EEE and WEEE, which is specifically defined as waste.
Ms Grantham said: “On the whole, the results support what we have been saying for a few years now: a whole range of factors impact on the WEEE that arises for collection, and as an industry we need to improve our understanding of the relationship between EEE and WEEE.
“Improved data on EEE and WEEE flows is increasingly important to assist in target setting and future EPR policy.”