Collections of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) have fallen in the second quarter of 2017 compared to the same period 12 months earlier, figures published by the Environment Agency suggest.
And, the data indicates that compliance schemes are currently falling behind the required collection rate needed to meet the targets set by the government to fulfil producer recycling obligations by the end of the year. Failing to meet the targets could mean that some schemes could need to pay a ‘compliance fee’ in order to meet their obligations at the end of the year.
The provisional data, which was published on the Environment Agency’s website on Friday (1 September), suggests that a total of 133,000 tonnes of household WEEE was collected for recycling in the months April to June 2017, compared to around 150,000 tonnes collected during the same period in 2016.
This continues a trend seen in the first quarter of the year with the total tonnage of material collected below that recorded during the preceding year (see letsrecycle.com story). During Q1 2017 around 137,000 tonnes of WEEE was collected by compliance schemes, down from 146,000 tonnes one year earlier.
Whilst lightweighting of goods can go some way to explain a fall in the volume of material collected for some types of electrical goods, in particular display equipment, a fall in the volume of large household appliances collected compared to the same period in 2016 is likely to be cause for concern.
The latest data can be viewed against the overall collection targets set for 2017 by Defra, which fixed an overall target to collect 622,033 tonnes of WEEE – based on trends in the tonnages of WEEE collected over the last three years.
This equated to a required quarterly collection rate of close to 155,000 tonnes of material per quarter – but the Q2 data indicates that the rate of collection will need to increase if the target is to be met for the year.
At present, around 43% of the overall WEEE collection target has been met, with large household appliances, display and cooling equipment in particular needing an increase in collections throughout the second half of the year in order to meet targets.
Commenting on the data, Mark Burrows-Smith, chief executive of WEEE producer compliance scheme, Repic said that greater understanding of the potential future trends in WEEE arisings could be required when setting future targets.
“The quarter two data shows just how ambitious the WEEE collection targets for 2017 are. The April – June 2017 data shows similar levels of collection to the previous quarter with less than 50% of the target collected across every major category…”
He said: “The quarter two data shows just how ambitious the WEEE collection targets for 2017 are. The April – June 2017 data shows similar levels of collection to the previous quarter with less than 50% of the target collected across every major category, and particular short fallings in Cooling, Display and LDA, at a time when the trend for collections in these categories usually rises.
“While we remain committed to achieving the targets set, Repic strongly believes that more evidence-based research is required to help set future collection targets. It’s imperative to the future of the system that we look beyond the buy and dispose model and instead factor in the impact of consumer economics and commodity price fluctuations into the mix.
“This is particularly important in understanding the why and the how EEE becomes WEEE, especially for items that aren’t being recycled through the DCF/household collection facilities.”