WEEE news round-up (21/09/2021)

With a consultation on lithium-ion batteries on the horizon, it has been a busy few weeks for the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) sector, in which several councils strengthened their kerbside collections. James Langley takes a look at some of the recent WEEE developments.

Crawley's Cllr Gurinder Jhans with a batteries bin - residents can place batteries on top of their normal waste collections

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) today (21 September) published a letter from the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, saying there would be a consultation on electric vehicle batteries “in the coming months”.

Crawley borough council has extended its kerbside collection service to include batteries, while East Devon council is to receive funding from Valpak for the transportation of WEEE from a transport station to recyclers.

And, American WEEE recycler Wisetek announced it had opened a new facility in Milton Keynes.

Lithium-ion batteries

In a letter published today, the business secretary confirmed there would be a consultation “at the turn of the year” to examine the recycling of batteries for electric vehicles.

Dated 9 September, Mr Kwarteng sent his letter in response to correspondence from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), which raised concerns that there are currently “no recycling facilities” for lithium-ion batteries in the UK.

Kwasi Kwarteng has said a consultation on battery recycling is due ‘at the turn of the year’ (Picture by Pippa Fowles)

The committee also suggested the government should diverge from EU rules on battery recycling, suggesting the UK should “match or exceed” the provisions of the EU’s Batteries Regulation, currently under revision.

Mr Kwarteng said there was a “commitment” to review battery recycling in 2018’s Resources and Waste Strategy. In his letter he writes: “That review is underway and due to lead to a consultation at the turn of the year. Defra is considering the draft EU Batteries Regulation proposals alongside the review of the UK’s domestic batteries legislation.”

In a statement published today, the EAC’s chairman, Philip Dunne MP, said he “welcomed” the news that the government would act on his committee’s recommendations.

He said: “As we move from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles, we must adopt a circular economy for the batteries to minimise waste of precious metals and to be mindful of our carbon footprint. I am pleased that there will shortly be a consultation on this, to which our committee plans to contribute.”

Crawley

Meanwhile, as of 20 September, some Crawley residents are now able to recycle batteries as part of their existing kerbside collection service for textiles and small electricals.

Currently these services are only available to residents of properties with their own individual waste bins. However, Crawley borough council says it has started rolling out the services to “some flats”.

Cllr Gurinder Jhans with a batteries bin – residents can place batteries on top of their normal waste collections

Residents are advised: “put your batteries in a small clear plastic bag (such as a sandwich bag) or clean plastic pot or tub with a lid and place it on top of your rubbish bin on collection day. Please do not put batteries inside your recycling or rubbish bins as they can cause fires if they end up in the wrong place.

“Small amounts of clean, dry, unwanted textiles and old or broken small electrical items can be put next to your individual household bins in tied carrier bags for collection. Print a label from our website or make your own and attach it to your bag to identify the contents. Please recycle little and often as space on our collection vehicle is limited and remove any batteries from your small electricals.”

Cllr Gurinder Jhans, Crawley’s cabinet member for environmental services and sustainability, said: “We are pleased to be expanding our waste and recycling services to allow residents to safely dispose of batteries along with textiles and small electrical items at the kerbside.

“We are also delighted to have begun rolling out these services to properties with communal bins and will continue to do so over the next year or so.”

East Devon

In other related news, Valpak will fund the transportation of WEEE from an East Devon waste transfer station to recyclers, as the compliance scheme looks to “strengthen” its partnership with the council.

East Devon council’s WEEE service is supported by Valpak

In a similar capacity to Crawley, East Devon council includes small items of WEEE such as kettles, toasters and irons as part of its household waste service, collecting approximately 60 tonnes a year. East Devon residents are asked to place WEEE in a recycling box provided, together with cardboard, paper, glass, clothes, and bagged batteries.

Valpak says its increased financial support mean small domestic appliances will continue to be included in the service.

The compliance scheme’s commercial manager, James Nash, said: “Securing the provision of East Devon’s waste electronics collection service makes environmental and commercial sense for all parties.

“We are delighted that we have been able to further strengthen our partnership and preserve these valuable secondary resources including metals and plastics so they can be recycled. This prevents any damaging environmental impact and supports the development of the circular economy.”

Wisetek

(l-r)Wisetek employees Donnacha McEnery, engineer; Chris Hull, ITAD team lead; Mark Watson, UK head of business development; Alin Ion, ITAD technician; Rolandas Bartasius, ITAD technician; Matt Summers, UK business operations manager; and John Murphy, IT test engineer, at Wisetek’s new facility in Milton Keynes.

Elsewhere, American IT asset disposition specialist Wisetek announced it had expanded into the UK with the opening of a new facility in Milton Keynes on 14 September.

To be managed by Matt Summers, Wisetek’s UK business operations manager, the 40,000 sq ft facility will offer services such as asset disposition and data destruction.

Wisetek says the company plans to offer bespoke services such as remote employee services, repair, kitting, and mobile HDD shredding once the facility is “fully operational”.

Mark Watson, Wisetek’s UK head of business development, said “The establishment of this new facility is a significant achievement for Wisetek, and speaks to the growing demand we are seeing for our services across the globe.

“We look forward to seizing the opportunities which this new facility will afford us to expand our client base and service businesses and organisations operating in different sectors throughout the UK.”

Wisetek says it is the company’s “key priority” to expand its presence and facilitate its growth in the UK market following Brexit.

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