The Environment Agency has confirmed that it is investigating the compliance scheme Northern Compliance, after it failed to fulfil its household WEEE target for 2017.
But, Northern Compliance – which is based in Gateshead and has retailer ASDA as a member – has said that it was not in breach of regulations because it is in the midst of a legal challenge with the UK government over how the 2017 compliance fee was set.
In response to a freedom of information (FOI) request which has been seen by letsrecycle.com and some businesses in the WEEE sector, the Environment Agency confirmed that Northern Compliance had both missed the 2017 WEEE household target, and also that the Agency had begun an investigation or enforcement proceedings.
Specifically, the compliance scheme, which boasts members such as ASDA and electrical brands Akura and Lloytron, was around 3,000 tonnes short of the required tonnage to meet its obligations.
Normally, schemes missing the targets would pay a compliance fee, which is an alternative mechanism that compliance schemes and obligated business can use if they have insufficient recycling evidence to meet their WEEE collection targets for the year.
The exact method is changed yearly but is approximately worked out by paying a set amount per tonne short of the target.
However, Northern Compliance reasons that the legal challenge meant that it shouldn’t have to do so for now.
In a statement, Vincent Eckerman, director Northern Compliance (NC), said: “For the avoidance of doubt we have no issue with the principle of the compliance fee as a means to aid Declaration of Compliance but our challenge concerns the mechanism itself.
“Far from being in breach of regulations, it should be noted that NC Ltd’s actions have been and remain in consideration of their legal challenge to UK WEEE Regulations and not a planned breach of compliance.”
The statement also branded the FOI request “vexatious and mischievous” and made by “unknown persons or organisations with vested interests”.
A link to the full Northern Compliance statement can be read here.
Northern Compliance has more than 150 companies that are members of its scheme. AVC Weeeco Ltd is the delivery partner for ‘Northern Compliance Ltd’ and ‘WEEE Light Ltd’. These are described by AVC Weeeco Ltd as being “two of the UK’s Leading Producer Compliance Schemes, providing turnkey solutions for producers, distributors, local authorities and business.”