According to the latest WEEE collection figures released by the Environment Agency, the annual target looks set to be missed yet again
For the last two years the UK has failed to meet the annual WEEE collection targets, in 2018 by more than 44,532 tonnes. To meet the required collection targets in 2019 an increase in collections of 12% is required, compared to the amount actually collected in 2018.
The latest figures released by the Environment Agency for the first three quarters of 2019 illustrate that we are very unlikely to hit the annual target for the third year in a row.
Small Mixed WEEE (categories 2-10) is particularly poorly performing and stands very far from the 75% level we should be achieving by Q3.
Reliance on the Compliance Fee
The reasons for poor collection rates are many, including poor recycling opportunities for consumers compared to other materials, a lack of public awareness of the issue and even the difficulty of fully understanding the flow of EEE through to WEEE when setting the collection targets.
The collection results matter because WEEE compliance schemes are required to purchase enough recycling evidence to meet their members obligations. When the targets are missed, the shortfall in evidence means that schemes are forced to rely on the WEEE Compliance Fee, a mechanism that provides an alternative means of compliance, albeit a more expensive one.
The monies raised through the fee are administered by the WEEE Fund who ensure it is spent on activities to improve WEEE collections and recycling including technical research, behaviour change campaigns and local projects.
Through the 2017-18 compliance period the Compliance Fee mechanism raised over £10.6million, indicative of the amount that it is relied upon by schemes as the UK struggles to collect enough WEEE. The exact mechanism for the 2019 Compliance Fee is currently being consulted on.
Time is ticking to disperse the funds
Robbie Staniforth, head of policy at Ecosurety commented "These results provide further evidence that the current WEEE regulations are simply not working. Clearly there is a huge disparity between the government’s targets and the amount being collected. It is not the fault of any single actor but rather a systemic issue that will need to be addressed in the consultation slated for 2020."
"Fortunately, the existence of a Compliance Fee ensures that producers continue to provide funding for e-waste collections and recycling in spite of the targets being missed. However, time is ticking on dispersing these funds. To date, the WEEE Fund has had no significant impact on collection rates even though it has collected over £10 million over the last two years."
Working hard to improve WEEE collections and recycling
To help increase WEEE collections we provide an extensive UK-wide collections service with an easy online booking service. From a one-off collection through to helping distributors fulfil their take-back obligations, we can help. Find out more on our WEEE collections page.
Ecosurety is also working hard to investigate how WEEE collections can be improved for consumers and businesses. Earlier this year during national Recycle Week we organised an E-waste Amnesty on our local business park that is home to 100 companies and 8,000 employees. This provided invaluable data and intelligence for future WEEE collection campaigns that we will be sharing with other key industry stakeholders.
In recognition of the need for investment in this area, last month we launched the industry-first Ecosurety Exploration Fund that will invest £1million in projects that can reduce the environmental impact of packaging, batteries or WEEE through innovation or research in the UK. We are looking to support ideas up to £150,000 that will go on to make a bigger impact beyond the initially funded project - especially those that may ordinarily struggle to get off the ground.
If you have any questions or ideas about how the Ecosurety Exploration Fund can help improve WEEE collections and recycling, please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0333 4330 370.
Marketing projects specialist
Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.