UK WEEE recycling rate below European average

By Nick Mann

The UK ranks just below the average in the results of a survey of waste electrical and electronic equipment recycling rates across Europe published today (May 9) by compliance scheme ERP.

The 7.5 kilogram (kg) per head of population of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) collected for recycling in the UK in 2010 puts it below the 8.26kg per person average recorded by the ERP survey, which took in 11 European nations.

The UKs WEEE recycling performance placed it slightly below the average for the countries included in the ERP survey
The UKs WEEE recycling performance placed it slightly below the average for the countries included in the ERP survey

That figure places the UK in sixth place among the nations surveyed by ERP, well below the best-performing nation Norway (19kg per head) but well above the lowest tonnage, recorded by Poland (3.7kg per head).

The UK, and all the other countries surveyed except Poland, all collected above the 4kg per head collection target required under the EU WEEE Directive.

ERP operates in 12 European countries, and the schemes chief executive and president, Umberto Raiteri, said the results would allow it to gauge recycling habits across each country and to encourage householders to recycle more.

We have found the results of this research both interesting and useful. Interesting because it gives us some insight into the different behaviours and attitudes of varying nationalities to recycling, and useful, because it helps us in shaping our plans for future success in recycling around Europe, he said.

We know that one size does not fit all, each country faces different challenges, but it is up to us to address those challenges as best we can and tailor our service to be cost effective and efficient for our member companies, he added.


Despite the UKs relatively good performance, the way in which its WEEE recycling performance is measured is set to change under the recast of the WEEE Directive that is currently underway.

This involves a move from a weight-based to percentage-based target, although the exact target and how it is calculated, are yet to be agreed (see story).

The ERP survey also found that the UK was among seven countries where larger household appliances – such as washing machines and fridges – were the most frequently recycled types of WEEE, whereas in France and Denmark this applied to IT and telecommunications equipment.


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While European battery recycling targets are already calculated on a percentage-basis, the ERP survey also examined the quantity of waste portable batteries collected per head, with six of the 11 countries returning figures.

These ranged from 40 grams (around two AA batteries per head) in Poland to 220 grams (12 AA batteries per head), with the UK collecting 72 grams per head in 2010. The average across the countries surveyed was 109 grams per head.

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