WEEE targets hit for first time in seven years

Data published by Defra has shown that the UK met its target for the collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in 2023. 

The announcement comes amidst growing concerns over the environmental consequences of electronic waste

Published on Friday (1 March), the data shows that 473,019 tonnes of household WEEE was collected in 2023, against a target of 471,942, meaning the target was exceeded by 0.2%.

The tonnages of WEEE collected also rose by 1.2% year-on-year.

This is the first time the target has been reached since 2016. While this will be welcomed, the 2023 target was reduced by 39,434 tonnes between 2022 and 2023, due to lower amounts of material placed on the market in 2021 and over the pandemic.

Placed on market

The data published on Friday has also shown that the amount of WEEE placed on the market

This showed that 506,502 tonnes of WEEE was placed on the market in 2023, down 0.7% year-on-year.

WEEE targets are set at 65% of the average of what has been placed on the market over the last three years.

Using the data for 2023, the provisional target is therefore 479,872 for 2024.


Louise Grantham, chief executive of WEEE producer compliance scheme REPIC, said: “This achievement is particularly noteworthy considering that three categories, Large Household Appliances, Automatic Dispensers, and Gas Discharge Lamps categories saw reductions in WEEE collections when compared to the previous year.

Louise Grantham, chief executive of WEEE producer compliance scheme REPIC

“The largest tonnage shortfall against the 2023 target was observed in Large Household Appliances, most likely due to high secondary metal prices throughout the year. Our own research underscores the inverse relationship between secondary metal prices and WEEE collected in the system, highlighting the need for strategic interventions.”

Ms Grantham added: “The reported figures show a decline in the amount of EEE placed on the market by weight compared to 2022. This trend was consistent across most categories, except Small Household Appliances, Electrical and Electronic Tools and PV Panels. The overall reduction was. 0.2%, 3.5% excluding PV Panels, however in some categories it was much higher – for instance in Display, which was 14.4% lower than the year before.

“Once again highlighting the complex dynamics between EEE and WEEE and why setting targets is challenging. We are pleased to see the consultation has questions on future target setting and other measures of success that may be more appropriate as we seek to develop a more circular economy.”


Elsewhere, Nigel Harvey, the chief executive of Recolight, explained that hitting the target “is not necessarily good news”.

He explained that once all compliance schemes have met their targets for producers, “they will seek to avoid any further collections” as a way of controlling cots.

Nigel Harvey is chief executive of producer compliance scheme Recolight

He added: “As a consequence, when targets are hit, there is a risk that some household WEEE will not be collected.  There is a safety mechanism enshrined in WEEE regulation 34 that avoids this from impacting Local Authorities.  But other collectors of WEEE, such as reuse charities, do not have that protection.  As a consequence, the best WEEE target is one that is just unachievable.  High enough to be stretching, but without being so high that it results in an excessive compliance fee payment.”

Specifically on the lamp targets, he said this was missed by around 100 tonnes, or 2.4%.

“Arguably therefore, the 2023 lamp target was pitched about right – it was just missed, but will not result in excessive compliance fee payments,” he said.

WEEE Conference

WEEE collections will be front and centre of the WEEE Conference, taking place on 21 March.

Click here to view the agenda and secure your ticket.


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