£8m Fund Announced To Support WEEE Reuse & Recycling

Over £8m will be spent on projects that will support higher levels of reuse and recycling of waste electrical and electronic waste, the Joint Trade Association (JTA) confirmed today (6 June).

The fund, generated by the use of the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive) Compliance Fee in 2017, is expected to be spent over the next three years on a range of activities including technical research, communications, behaviour change activities and local projects.

The WEEE Compliance Fee was established as a means for Producer Compliance Schemes to discharge some of their obligations on behalf of producers of electronic equipment as an alternative to directly collecting WEEE.

The JTA’s proposal for the 2017 Compliance Fee was chosen by the Secretary of State for Environment, The Rt. Hon. Michael Gove, earlier this year and following a competitive selection process.

The £8m fund is considerably larger than in previous years. For example, in 2015 the Fund was £45,000 and was used to fund technical research projects only.

Susanne Baker, JTA – “The size of this year’s Fund means that we can make a significant difference to how the UK WEEE regime operates and functions.”

Among the initial technical projects already confirmed is one that will assess the presence of persistent organic pollutants in plastics arising from waste electricals and electronics, in a project led by ICER, and the development of a mixed WEEE protocol ahead of open scope, in a project led by the WEEE Schemes Forum.

A further £4m will be invested in local projects. In September, local authority groups and the Reuse Network will be invited to present their views for the best approach for working with local authorities and reuse operators.

Finally, £3m will be invested in communications and behaviour change programmes, with spend spread across three years. Later this year, communications and behaviour change experts will be invited to pitch their proposals.

For each of the three broad areas – local projects, technical research and communications and behaviour change programmes – a panel of experts, drawn from actors across the WEEE system, will be invited to support judging and appraisals of bids.

Susanne Baker, Chair of the JTA, and head of techUK’s environment and compliance programme said: “The size of this year’s Fund means that we can make a significant difference to how the UK WEEE regime operates and functions.

“There is no urgency to spend the money quickly, the focus will instead be spending the fund carefully on projects that can deliver genuine and lasting improvements to the system with the buy-in and support from the community of local authorities, businesses and civic society groups that manage and deal with these products at the end of life.”

The first stage of the process, an open call for ideas for technical research projects, opens today. Ideas for projects should be sent to info@weeefund.uk by 30 August 2018. Further calls for technical research projects will be held in 2019 and 2020. Across the three years, around £1m will be invested in research.

The UK WEEE Regulations aim to address the environmental impacts of waste electrical and electronic equipment by reducing the amount going to landfill by encouraging separate collection and subsequent treatment, reuse, recovery, recycling and environmentally sound disposal. It placed obligations on the producers of electrical and electronic products to finance their collection and recycling.

The 2017 WEEE Compliance Fee is administered by Mazars LLP (Mazars) on behalf of the JTA. The JTA is a collective of trade associations representing the vast majority of WEEE producers. Collectively, the members of the trade associations that comprise the JTA employ nearly 1m staff in the UK, in around 7000 companies across all sizes of producers, from the very small to the very large, and supply both the business-to-consumer and business-to-business markets.

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