26 September 2019 by Lucy Pegg

WEEE Regs review expected imminently

A review of the existing WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) Regulations is expected to be outlined in the coming months, a Defra official said this week.

The comment came from Graeme Vickery – senior policy advisor at Defra and the department’s lead on WEEE regulations – as he spoke at the 2019 WEEE Conference at Lord’s Cricket Ground yesterday (September 25), which was organised by letsrecycle.com.

(l-r) Dr Richard Peagam, Anthesis; Louisa Hatton, Environment Agency, and; Graeme Vickery, Defra – all of whom spoke at the 2019 WEEE Conference

“We will be publishing very soon a review of the 2014/13 regulation – what that effectively does is look at what we thought the regulations would do when we first introduced them and what we are doing is effectively reviewing that to see if what we thought we would achieve has actually been achieved,” Mr Vickery explained.

“I have been saying it will be published soon and it will be published soon,” he added

The government has committed to review the WEEE Regulations through its Resources and Waste Strategy, which was published late last year.

The Regulations were last updated in 2013 and Defra said it would publish a review – which has been authored by Eunomia – of the effectiveness of the Regulations this year. Views will then be sought on issues including how the existing Regulations can be amended to encourage better designed products.

EU Target

Mr Vickery also told the Conference that there is a “strong possibility” that the UK will miss its EU member state Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) collection targets in 2019.

He said: “There is a strong possibility that this year for the first time we may not meet the EU target.

“This is not a UK specific issue, I know it is an issue in other EU countries we are talking with.”

Declining tonnages in collection of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment have made meeting EU targets more challenging

In 2019, the overall target for WEEE collection will jump from the equivalent of around 45% of the weight of new products placed onto the market over the last three years, to a potential 65% aim.

The new Directive introduced a collection target of 45% of new electronic equipment sold which applied from 2016 and, as a second step from 2019, a target of 65% of equipment sold, or 85% of WEEE generated. Internal targets for the collection of WEEE have been missed in consecutive years.

Later, Mr Vickery also updated the conference on the government’s Environment Bill and said it is likely to feature in the parliamentary session following the Queen’s speech which is currently expected on 14 October.

He explained: “One of the key purposes of the Environment Bill is to hold government to account through an office for environmental protection. This is replacing the role previously held by the European Commission.”

Mr Vickery added: “One of the key things in the Resources and Waste Strategy was to more clearly align the EPR schemes behind some core principals.”

Protocols

As well as an update from Defra, the Environment Agency has updated its approach WEEE, the conference heard from the Agency’s WEEE lead Louisa Hatton.

From January it will be using updated protocols for Small Mixed WEEE (SMW) and Large Domestic Appliances (LDA) and reclassifying which items are covered by WEEE regulations.

Ms Hatton said: “We will make sure there is a level playing field for operators within the system.”

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