Following the Government’s recent publication of the summary of responses received to its WEEE regulations consultation, and the three key changes to be made, compliance scheme operators, Recolight and Ecosurety, have expressed their support.
The summary document included three key changes that the Government will make to the UK’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations, namely:
- the retention of the existing 14 WEEE categories, rather than a move to just six categories, as suggested
- the introduction of a mandatory requirement for WEEE Producer Compliance Schemes (PCSs) to be members of a “Balancing System”, to ensure the costs of collecting WEEE from local authorities are shared out amongst all WEEE schemes
- producer registration charges to be paid to the environment agency of the nation where the producer is based. For example, fees from producers based in Scotland will be paid to SEPA, those based in England are paid to the EA.
Nigel Harvey, chief executive of Recolight, said: “All three proposals were strongly supported by Recolight and its members. In particular, retention of the 14 WEEE categories means producers will not need to report large and small equipment separately. That avoids unnecessary red tape.”
He added: “Making a PCS balancing system mandatory is a great move. A majority of PCSs already participate in the current PCS Balancing System (or PBS). However, a small proportion do not, and so they, and their producer members, can legitimately avoid funding the Local Authority WEEE that no PCS wants to collect. That is not fair, and so this change is very welcome.”
The Government also published responses to questions that will feed into a wider review of the WEEE regulations. Most striking was a question regarding WEEE freeriding through online sellers – 74 percent of respondents said that the current system had no or low impact on ensuring online sellers are compliant. A common suggestion from respondents was that the WEEE Regulations should be amended to require online sellers and fulfilment houses to take on the responsibility of “producer” for the product they sell or stock on behalf of internet sellers.
The Government has not yet said how they will tackle the online freeriders problem. However, they indicate that it may be addressed in the forthcoming Resources and Waste strategy. And recognising the importance, they have agreed to convene a round table of stakeholders in the meantime.
Harvey added: “Online freeriding is a major problem to many in the electrical sector, which puts compliant companies at a competitive disadvantage. Although it is disappointing that the Government has not yet proposed regulatory changes to tackle this problem, it is good to see that change is at last being contemplated. It cannot happen too soon.”
Robbie Staniforth, policy manager at Ecosurety, a packaging, WEEE and batteries compliance scheme, also supported the decision to retain 14 WEEE categories: “We are glad to see that the Government agrees with us and the majority of our members. Changing the reporting system would have created an unnecessary burden for producers, especially given the very short timeframe and the fact that there will not be standardised reporting across the EU.
“It is a shame that UK businesses have been left with this uncertainty for so long but we’re pleased to see the right decision has been made. We support the development of a methodology that allows the UK government to report figures to the EU in the format required.”