Over £8 million in funding is available for projects to boost the collection of WEEE, after producers of electronic goods failed to meet their targets to recycle old products in 2017.
The funding is taken from the WEEE producer compliance fee, introduced in 2014 under the revised Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations.
The compliance fee is a mechanism for compliance schemes and obligated business to use if they have insufficient recycling evidence to meet their collection targets.
According to the Joint Trade Associations, which has overseen the administration of the fee for 2017, the money will be spent over the next three years on projects that will support higher levels of reuse and recycling of WEEE.
The fee was put in place to stop compliance schemes from collecting too much WEEE and looking to sell it to those who need it to meet targets at a higher price, which had led to concerns that the WEEE system had placed too much cost onto businesses.
The £8 million fund is considerably larger than in previous years. For example, in 2015 the fund was £45,000 and was used to fund technical research projects only.
This fee is calculated by the average cost of collection multiplied by how far away a producer compliance scheme (PCS) is from the target. For 2017, the final fee also included a flat £3.50 per tonne fee to reflect the variable costs involved in collecting and processing WEEE, Defra explained when it announced the methodology to be used to set the fee this year (see letsrecycle.com story).
PCSs missed their 2017 target by 16% in 2017, or around 99,000 tonnes, which prompted some to speculate that the compliance fee could be significantly larger than in previous years (see letsrecycle.com story).
The fund is expected to be spent on a range of activities including technical research, communications, behaviour change activities and local projects, the JTA confirmed.
The JTA today confirmed that among the initial technical projects already confirmed is one that will assess the presence of persistent organic pollutants in plastics arising from WEEE.
Elsewhere, a further £4 million will be invested in “local projects”. The JTA confirmed that local authority groups and the Reuse Network will be invited to present their views for the best approach for working with local authorities and reuse operators in September.
There will also be another £3 million invested in communications and behaviour change programmes, with spend spread across three years. Later this year, communications and behaviour change experts will be invited to pitch their proposals.
For each of the three areas, a JTA-appointed panel will be invited to support judging and appraisals of bids.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Susanne Baker, chair of the JTA, explained that the size of this year’s budget can make a “significant” difference to the WEEE recycling in the UK.
She said: “There is no urgency to spend the money quickly, the focus will instead be spending the fund carefully on projects that can deliver genuine and lasting improvements to the system with the buy-in and support from the community of local authorities, businesses and civic society groups that manage and deal with these products at the end of life.”