The Environment Agency has published further guidance on the definition of ‘placed on the market’ being the point where Producers need to count the amount of electrical and electronic equipment, in tonnes, for which they have obligations.
Using the EC guide to directives (the so-called Blue Book) they state that ‘placed on the market’ is considered to be the point when the intention for distribution or use in the UK is reached. The Agency have stressed that it is not the act of supplying the EEE but the point where it is made available for sale in the UK.
The difficulty with this approach is, firstly, it doesn’t actually count products that will definitely be used in the UK (and hence end up in the UK waste stream) as products in UK warehouses could, ultimately, be exported, and does not take into account the cash flow implication for companies (having to ‘pay’ for their obligations on products not yet sold). The Agency state that they have previously taken a pragmatic approach (by allowing actual sales data to be used) but do not explain the reasons for abandoning their previous approach.
As part of the Red Tape Challenge, Defra is currently planning a Consultation to look at ways to reduce the requirements placed on businesses on completing and storing Waste Transfer Notes (WTNs).
Currently under UK law, a business has a Duty of Care requirement to ensure that they consider the environment when they produce, store, transport and dispose of their waste. Within this is the necessity to complete WTNs each time waste is passed from one party to another, and to keep a record of completed WTNs for at least 2 years.
This results in the production of at least 25 million WTNs being produced a year, and an administrative burden for many businesses. As such, Defra recently confirmed that it would be looking at possibilities of reducing these requirements. One likely suggestion is looking at alternatives to the WTN, for example, by allowing businesses to use other forms of evidence (such as an invoice) when moving the waste.
In an update to local authorities the Department said this week: “The Red Tape Challenge identified that many small businesses find the production, completion and storage of Waste Transfer Notes burdensome. Therefore we will be looking for alternative ways for businesses to provide the information required when was changes hand, e.g. by allowing them to use other forms of evidence instead such as invoices.”
“We plan to consult on changes to the Waste Transfer Note system during summer 2013.”
It is thought that the Consultation is part of the Environment Agency’s plans for an electronic system, due in 2014, to be put in place to record WTNs. This will allow the issue and record of WTNs online instead of the current paper based copies, and is estimated to save businesses £5 million a year.
PV Cycle, the European initiative to ensure photovoltaic take back and compliance to the Recast WEEE Directive has announced that it has opened a UK office to enable it to have better access to UK-based PV value chain actors in their new compliance and waste treatment obligations and play a pivotal role in contributing to the current UK WEEE transposition process.
The UK office, staffed by experienced personnel, will continue to serve UK PV companies via the Association’s existing Business-to-Business infrastructure consisting of a network of fixed collection points and a direct pick-up service. In addition, the country office intends to both ensure the legal compliance of UK Producers and support distributors, wholesalers, retailers and any other value chain actors that do not fall under the WEEE Producer definition. “We are now building upon our ability to offer attractive WEEE-compliance solutions to our existing members and to UK PV companies and module owners”, said Jan Clyncke, Managing Director at PV Cycle.
With hundreds of collection points, certified waste transporters and specialized recycling partners, PV Cycle is today’s only fully operational take-back and recycling scheme for all types of PV technologies. The UK subsidiary adds on to a broader regionalisation programme that PV Cycle initiated in summer 2012 with the creation of its first national office in Italy. PV Cycle started out as a centralised, pan-European take-back and recycling solution with the aim of enabling its members to execute their commitment to extended producer responsibility and now represents approximately 90 per cent of the European PV market.
The WEEE Scheme Forum, which represents 26 of the 38 producer compliance schemes in the UK and over 90% of the tonnage obligation, has announced that it is preparing a bid to act as the operator of a ‘Producer Takeback Scheme’ or to administer the allocation of collection facilities to schemes, as set out in two of the government’s four options for the future of the B2C WEEE system.
Members of the WEEE Scheme Forum include B2B Compliance, Budget Pack, ERP, Recolight and REPIC.
The Forum has announced that it had started the process of registering as a separate legal entity from its members, in order to make it available for either of the roles, depending on how the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) opts to change the WEEE system. In order to increase its representation a spokesperson said “We are inviting all of the schemes who are not members of the WSF to join until the end of 2013 without cost so that they can be involved in discussions with existing members.” Changes are being made to the UK’s WEEE regime to bring the UK in line with the Recast WEEE Directive and following concerns from producers of electronic equipment that the cost of compliance with the legislation exceeds the actual operational costs.
One of the key developments in the recent WEEE consultation is the inclusion of photovoltaic (PV) panels from 1st January 2014 – this places a number of legal obligations upon the PV sector. While the regulations are somewhat complex, in simple terms they place obligations upon UK importers or manufacturers of PV modules (defined as ‘Producers’) and upon installers or wholesalers (essentially deemed to be retailers and defined as ‘Distributors’) to ensure that a collection and recycling infrastructure is established and financed.
PV CYCLE, the European industry initiative to ensure compliance and recycling solutions across all member states, had lobbied BIS for PV modules to be treated as a special case under the legislation. Without this special case status there could have been significant upfront costs as the regulations are currently worded, with the sector having to pay for the collection and recycling of consumer products rather than their own waste.
BIS has responded to PV CYCLE’s representations with a pragmatic approach and, under the new draft regulations, has created an additional category for PV modules on the condition that the PV industry establishes a dedicated collection and recycling infrastructure for PV. This matches the aims of PV CYCLE who already operate and manage PV module take-back and recycling in Europe, including the United Kingdom.
To learn more about your obligations, the UK WEEE law and PV CYCLE you can contact email@example.com or visit PV CYCLE at various industry events across the UK – including the Solar Power UK exhibition planned for October in Birmingham.
While the focus of the WEEE consultation is on the options proposed for addressing issues related to competition in the B2C sector there are some key issues where BIS have scored well.
- Their proposals for the creation of a 14th category for photovoltaic panels has received universal acceptance.
- The pragmatic approach of allowing Producers to determine if their products are destined for B2B or B2C outlets makes sense – otherwise there was the risk of anything that could be used in a home being deemed as B2C and triggering a full market share obligation – as well as the B2B obligation!
- By not allocating a collection target to the B2B sector has recognised that the vast majority of WEEE from non-households does not go through the official WEEE system
- By acknowledging the ‘substantiated estimates’ approach, initially to count domestic appliances going through the scrap metal system (rather than the WEEE system), BIS have started a process which recognises, and seeks to estimate, flows of WEEE and used EEE that isn’t currently being counted.
- Removing the requirement for company Directors to sign off submissions under the regulations thereby removing workloads on producers and schemes
To address the concerns raised under the Red Tape Challenge BIS have put forward four options:
- Option 1 Do nothing – our view is that politically BIS will be under pressure to do something and while there will be advocates for this approach it is unlikely to be the way forward.
- Option 2 A national compliance scheme – We do not believe that this is a serious option, would involve far more red tape that that which it seeks to avoid , carries the associated risks with monopolistic approaches, and appears to have no support from any stakeholder group
- Option 3 A collection target and compliance fee – Whereby, in simple terms, a PCS under collecting will pay a Compliance Fee rather than buy evidence from another PCS. This immediately shifts the market – whether it shifts it totally from a sellers’ market to a buyers’ market remains an open question. PCSs (rather than government) will carry the obligation to achieve the collection targets.
- Option 4 A matching process of collection sites to PCSs – This involves allocating DCFs (mainly local authority collection points) to Producers through an algorithm. While this option does not place collection targets on PCSs it would involve far more red tape than it seeks to avoid and, in our view, is potentially fraught with political risk for government as it means intervention in long term local authority/waste management company PFI contracts and may be subject to judicial challenges.
As industry sectors and individual stakeholders begin to formulate their views it does look like the WEEE regulations will be entering a new era.
Orgalime, the European federation of major trade associations, has released its core responses to the transposition of the WEEE Directive.
Not to be confused with the current consultation taking place at UK level it, nevertheless, emphasises some of the key points that UK government needs to address when considering the UK transposition. In particular it highlights that most WEEE (and used EEE) does not enter the WEEE system and is therefore not currently counted towards the targets. While BIS has acknowledged this fact, and has put forward proposals to count WEEE being recycled (but not recorded) by scrap merchants, some believe that this does not go far enough and that other outlets, in particular for used EEE, need to be taken into account which would entail identifying activities not only outside of the WEEE system but outside of the waste system.
The Orgalime response can be accessed here
Plans to harmonise the UK’s producer responsibility regimes for packaging, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and batteries were released yesterday in a bid to reduce the regulatory burden placed on businesses.
The proposals are a part of the government’s plan to cut red tape and bring the producer compliance regimes more closely in line with each other . The proposals have been issued for consultation in a discussion paper produced jointly by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Irish Assembly.
In the discussion paper, the government sets out 21 areas where it believes that a greater degree of coherence could be achieved across the regimes and has given stakeholders until May 31 to submit views on the changes.
The consultation can be accessed here
The Department of Business Innovation and Skills has announced its release of the WEEE consultation arising from the Recast Directive. Running to just under 300 pages, including impact assessments and draft regulations, the main focus is on attempting to address the current system which places power, and additional added value, to those players who have access to WEEE at the cost of schemes who do not have such access. BIS has put forward a number of options, each with its own complexities and challenges. These options are:
- No change and continue with the current system;
- Introduce a ‘National Producer Compliance Scheme’, instead of competition between current compliance schemes;
- Setting targets for compliance schemes along with a “compliance fee” if these are not met, instead of the trading of WEEE evidence data between collection schemes, and;
- Matching collection sites to collection schemes
Meanwhile various stakeholders will be looking to analyse the wider potential ramifications on their operations and prepare their responses by the deadline of 21st June. The full consultation can be downloaded from https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/waste-electrical-and-electronic-equipment-weee-implementing-the-recast-directive-and-uk-system-changes
A recent survey of 170 local authority waste disposal officers has revealed that about half of councils are unaware if their partner WEEE compliance scheme collects too much or too little WEEE to meet their members’ obligations.
In total, 51% of the respondents questioned as part of the survey, said they had no knowledge of whether the amount of WEEE collected met the obligated targets of their producer members and, of the council officers questioned, more than 70% said they thought they could benefit from a better understanding of the WEEE Directive. Critics of the current WEEE system argue that councils should have more information about how much WEEE compliance schemes are obligated to collect, in order to prevent over collecting schemes from trading evidence, which is said to drive up the price that Producers pay for recycling.
The results are rather surprising bearing in mind that the Department of Business, Skills and Innovation (BIS) has sent a number of letters to local authorities highlighting which Producer Compliance Schemes under collect, over collect or are in balance with their obligations by category.