The Environment Agency has published a summary of the responses to the recent discussion document as it seeks to achieve coherence across the four Producer Responsibility regimes of packaging, batteries, WEEE and ELVs. Of predominant interest to Producer Compliance Schemes (PCSs), but with cost ramifications for many other stakeholders, the discussion paper (a precursor to the formal consultation) received just 75 responses – 23 from PCSs and 23 from Producers with the remainder from trade associations and other interested bodies.
The discussion paper proposed 21 ‘improvements’ for coherence and while no firm conclusions were drawn from the mixed responses it, at least, gives the Environment Agency a base upon which to embark upon a formal consultation. The key challenge that the Agency faces is, that while the principles of Producer Responsibility apply across all regimes, there is individual legislation and individual factors relating to each sector which cannot be copied across to achieve common coherence.
Defra has stated that the coherence issues will be subject to formal consultation ‘in due course’.
The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has now published a summary of the 200 + responses they received to the recent WEEE consultation.
Overall a change to the current WEEE system was favoured. Of the four options proposed, option 4 (matching collection sites to compliance schemes) and option 3 (setting targets for compliance schemes along with a ‘compliance fee’ if targets not met) were the clear favourites with option 2 (a national compliance scheme) having little support amongst respondents.
Other proposals put forward such as the creation of an additional category for PV panels, the reporting of LED lamps under category 13 and setting a five tonne de-minimus all received high levels of support.
BIS is currently working on how the recast WEEE Directive will be transposed into UK legislation. Their formal response to the consultation is expected to be published in September 2013.
The consultation on the proposed changes to the UK WEEE Regulations invited responses on topics such as, meeting higher collection targets and simplifying the compliance system for Producers. There was specific focus on addressing the cost of compliance with Producers concerned the current costs do not represent the actual cost of recycling.
Four options were proposed by BIS;
- No change and continue with the current system
- Introduce a ‘National Producer Compliance Scheme’.
- Setting targets for compliance schemes along with a “compliance fee” if targets are not met.
- Matching collection sites to collection schemes.
It is thought option 3 and 4 are most favourable amongst the majority of stakeholders.
The consultation closed on the 21st June with Government stating feedback would be provided within 8 weeks. Due to the number of responses received, BIS has now confirmed that the Government’s formal response to the consultation has been delayed until September. It is expected however that a summary of the responses received to the consultation will be published this week.
As a result of the Environment Agency’s investigations into the illegal export of WEEE, December 2012 saw the further sentencing of defendants following the largest UK illegal WEEE export case. At the time, thought to not have sufficient funds to meet the financial penalties a further defendant has now been sentenced and ordered to pay fines in excess of £90,000.
The investigation code name ‘Operation Boron’ which began in 2008, focused on the illegal export of over 158 tonnes of material. The investigation revealed that the defendants were illegally transporting WEEE, including televisions, fridges and computers, to Nigeria, Ghana and Pakistan while claiming to be reusing or recycling the waste legally. The case led to at least 11 prosecutions with fines totalling more than £310,000.
The Environment Agency confirms that the illegal export of WEEE remains a key area of focus.
The Ecodesign Consultation on ‘Air Heating Products, Cooling Products and High Temperature Process Chillers has now been released as an action under the Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC1 which establishes a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products. The Directive lists products identified by the Council and the European Parliament as priorities for the Commission for implementation, including heating and cooling equipment (Article 16). Therefore, heating and cooling equipment, widely used in the European Union, are priority product groups considered for implementing measures under the Ecodesign Directive.
The scope of the proposed Regulation includes the following generic types of products:
1) air heating products with a rated heat output up to 1 MW;
2) cooling products with a rated cooling output up to 2 MW;
3) high temperature process chillers.
Documents can be accessed below:
Ecodesign Regulations – Draft
Transitional Methods – working document
Explanatory Notes – working document
Any company that falls within these products area can contact Strateco for further information.
Following on from the original commitment by BIS to provide feedback eight weeks after the WEEE consultation closed on 21st June, the department has confirmed that they will be meeting a range of stakeholders for an informal discussion at two meetings on 4th September.
The first meeting will be at the Industry Council for Electronic Recycling (ICER) in the morning – this meeting mainly dominated by recycling operators – followed up by a meeting with the WEEE Scheme Forum in the afternoon. The WEEE Scheme Forum is moving forward with its plan to establish a legal body in anticipation of a potential role under the new regulations.
WEEE collection data published by the Environment Agency last month shows that the WEEE collection rate, as a percentage of that placed on the market, is on the increase despite a fall in the overall tonnage in the amount of WEEE that was collected.
The provisional data shows that a total of 112,415 tonnes of household and non-household WEEE were collected for recycling between January and March 2013. This equates to a collection rate of around 30.22% when compared to the amount of new electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) placed onto the market over the preceding three years. But, overall the data shows that there appears to have been a decline in the actual amount of WEEE collected for recycling when compared to the same period during 2012, with 125,875 tonnes collected in Quarter 1 2012 and 112,415 t in 2013.
There are differing views amongst Producer Compliance Schemes over whether the data supports the suggestion that the WEEE recycling regime will need to be changed in order to attract the tonnage needed to meet increasing recycling targets, which come into effect from 2016. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is expected to publish its response to its consultation on proposed changes to the system next month, with new legislation then due to come into effect by January 2014.
At a recent meeting of the WEEE Liaison Group, the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) re-assured local authorities that the photovoltaic sector is developing a collection infrastructure for old PV panels which would reduce any instances of PV being delivered into local authority civic amenity sites.
The PV industry, through PV CYCLE, has given a commitment to government, in return for PV panels being given their own category, that they will establish and develop a collection infrastructure separate from that operated by the existing Distributor Takeback Scheme which is focused upon local authority sites.
Following the publication of the Recast WEEE Directive, DG Environment has now produced its first draft Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document. The FAQ document is intended to help a range of stakeholders to interpret the provisions of the new WEEE Directive in order to ensure compliance with the Directive’s requirements. The FAQs, which comprise a ‘living’ document and are subject to change, are not legally binding and interpretation is down to the courts. The draft can be found at:
Any comments can be submitted to ENV-WEEE@ec.europa.eu until 30 August 2013 and any comments will then be considered as input for the preparation of a consolidated version of the FAQ document.
Local authority recycling officers, through their organisation LARAC, claims that the current WEEE legislation is complex and lacks transparency supporting ‘Option 3’ (Compliance Fee mechanism) which would be, they claim, the most viable option, stating that there are ‘numerous shortcomings’ with the existing system, which it says “does not allow for an equitable distribution of benefits and costs between all parties”. It added: “LARAC feels that the fee needs to incentivise collection of material as opposed to just paying a fee. Local authorities should also be free to select the PCS of their choice, with nothing in the regulations put in place to inhibit this.”
The group furthermore stated that, if adopted, the compliance fee would need to be set to a correct level to ensure that the system functions properly. The organisation also expressed concern over the timetable for implementing the proposals, which it said was “somewhat ambitious”, given the complexities of the proposed changes.