WEEE plant operators have criticised the proposed targets for the collection of Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in 2018 and have called for higher target levels to be introduced.
The AATF Forum, which represents a large proportion of the UK’s WEEE processing businesses has warned of a need for “robust system of WEEE management” and claimed that targets proposed by Defra ‘lack ambition’.
‘AATF’ stands for Approved Authorised Treatment Facility, which is where waste electrical items are treated and processed once collected by producer compliance schemes (PCS). The Forum currently has around 18 members, representing around 80% of the UK’s WEEE treatment capacity.
As reported by letsrecycle.com last week, Defra consulted with the industry on a drop collection targets for 2018 of 14% overall compared to 2017, from a target of 622,023 tonnes in 2017 to 532,818 this year. This included an 18% reduction in targets for large household appliances and a 14% reduction for lamps.
Producer compliance schemes have expressed a mixed response to the proposals, with some PCS’ praising the lower targets and others highly critical.
The methodology for calculating the targets is based on the average annual growth in tonnes of WEEE collected for each category since 2013, while also considering the EEE placed on the market. WEEE collected by schemes and reported to the environment agencies is used as the source data.
According to the AATF Forum, in setting the target by tracking the previous year’s collection performance, “Defra is failing to meet the spirit and the environmental requirements of the WEEE directive”.
In a statement, the organisation said: “The proposed targets lack ambition and make assumptions that the WEEE is simply not available. The Forum asserts that there is significant leakage in the system and the lack of incentive to collect WEEE provided by the Compliance Fee has led to potentially obligated WEEE being processed through informal – and often environmentally damaging – disposal routes such as illegal exports and non-accredited ATFs.
“Without a robust system of WEEE management, the UK’s treatment infrastructure is at risk of lacking the investment needed for sustainable growth to ensure that high environmental standards are properly applied and maintained.”
The Forum added that there is “significant leakage” in the system, and that what it describes as a lack of incentive to collect WEEE has led to obligated WEEE, that which evidence can be issued on, being disposed of through informal disposal routes.
The final quarter for the 2017 collection was revealed earlier this month, which showed that compliance schemes collected 522,901 tonnes of WEEE in 2017, which was 16% shy of the target of 621,990.
At the time, some PCS’ said the UK remains on track to meet overall collection targets once ‘substantiated estimates’ of WEEE treated outside of the established collection system are taken into account (see letsrecycle.com story).
In the statement, the AATF Forum went on to criticise the “reliance” on substantiated estimates by Defra, saying that it supports a substandard treatment regime, before putting forward its own set of proposals.
As outlined below, the AATF Forum is calling for an overall increase of 3% of the targets, and also to “maximise use” of the compliance fee revenue raised from the 99,000 tonne shortfall on the 2017 targets to focus on identifying why “so much WEEE is not being captured”.
The statement added: “The Forum has put forward proposals to Defra to add ambition back into the targets to maintain achievable growth. It recognises the challenges caused by reduced new product sales, but there is still a huge gap of 772,000 tonnes between WEEE and EEE placed onto the market that is not explained.”
6 June 2018, Cavendish Conference Centre
WEEE collection rates and progress towards future targets will be among the topics covered at the 2018 WEEE Conference. Join us to debate these issues and more.