OK folks. Here’s the run down on the keys points from last week’s WEEE Recast consultation. A few days late but I got there in the end.
As many of you are aware the EU published the WEEE Recast (update) on July 24th 2012. The UK government has now published a consultation document that outlines proposed options for how the changes will be enacted within the UK. Their goal is that new legislation will be effective from January 1st 2014.
The consultation is split into three Sections with the first section focusing on the proposed changes to the UK WEEE system as a result of the changes to the EU directive. The second section looks at options improve the current UK WEEE system under the government’s Red Tape Challenge initiative. The third section reviews producer responsibility coherence and powers of entry for enforcement officers.
Let’s look at a very brief summary of the proposed changes and then we’ll single out what are likely to be the key points of contention.
From August 2018 the Directive changes from a “closed scope” where product categories are specifically defined to an “open scope” which assumes that all EEE is covered with some specific exceptions.
The Government is proposing establishing a new Category 14 for Photo-Voltaic panels. The proposal is that producers of PV panels will finance and manage separately.
Current Category 13 for Gas Discharge Lamps broaden to cover all types of lighting e.g. including LED
The definition of “WEEE from private households” broadened to include “Waste from EEE likely to be used by both private households…..”.
Retailer Collection for Very Small WEEE
Any retailer with a sales area of greater than 400m2 is required to take-back very small WEEE (no external dimension greater than 25cm) free of charge) with no obligation on the consumer to buy a replacement. There is an opt-out based upon providing existing, effective take-back scheme.
Collection and Recovery Rates
The minimum collection rates are increasing over the next few years. The EU recast provides two options for targeting, measuring and reporting collection rates as follows:
Option 1 – Based upon average total weight of EEE placed on market over preceding 3 years:
From January 1st 2016 – 45%
From January 1st 2019 – 65%
Option 2 – Alternate target of 85% based upon “WEEE generated” methodology based on estimates of WEEE generated from data on product lifecycles
BIS has appointed WRAP to conduct a study of WEEE treated outside of the current compliance scheme system (termed unobligated WEEE) and it is proposing that a protocol would be developed to estimate the tonnage of unobligated WEEE arising. This would be added to the UK’s tonnage reported to the EU. One area that the government is likely to focus on is the “light iron” material stream which is known to contain significant quantities of Large Domestic Appliances and to a lesser extent Small Domestic Appliances.
New recovery targets:
- 70% recovery and 50% recycling for Category 8 (medical devices) immediately; and
- All targets to be increased by 5% after three years, with a new 80% recycling target for gas discharge lamps.
Better controls to limit illegal international shipments and trade of WEEE. The new regulations call for used EEE destined for export to be properly tested, documents and packaged before it can be exported for reuse.
Independent Producer Responsibility (IPR)
An IPR sub-group originally set up by the government has proposed 3 options for moving towards IPR:
- A product weighting that rewards better eco-design by reducing the producer’s take-back obligation and penalises poor design
- Return share based upon brand sampling
- Front end payment for WEEE arising. Producers pay based upon sub-category of EEE placed on market.
The Red Tape Challenge (RTC) – Policy Options for Reforming the Household WEEE Collection System
The government is proposing four options as follows:
1. Do nothing. Just add in the required EU changes but leave the core operation of the system the same.
2. National Compliance Scheme whereby producers join a national scheme or register directly. Key issue is that collectors and treatment providers would bid for WEEE on a competitive tender basis. Stakeholders don’t like this for obvious reasons and the government have said that they are unlikely to pursue this option siting that it could be “monopolistic”.
3. Collection Target and Compliance Fee. This option involves allocating a collection target to Producer Compliance Schemes (PCS) based upon their members’ share of the UK target. Compliance schemes are free to make any arrangements they wish with regards to collection and treatment. However if they collect too much then they finance they it or retain the income depending upon costs of collection and treatment. If they don’t collect enough then they will be required to pay a Compliance fee per tonne of WEEE under target. This in turn would be used by the government to fund WEEE related projects. PCS’s would be required to provide Designated Collection Facilities (DCFs) take back free of charge for any item. However, in order to presumably share the risk of being forced to collect tonnage over and above a PCS’s collection target, this option also enables PCS’s to create a voluntary “Producer Takeback Scheme”.
Under this option Approved Authorised Treatment Facilities (AATFs) and Approved Exporters (AEs) are required to report details of WEEE received from PCSs as they are now AND details of WEEE received from any other source which is a new reporting requirement. Is this not Non-obligated WEEE currently part of AATF return?
4. PCS/DCF Matching Process. This option proposes the establishment of a WEEE PCS-DCF matching centre that would be responsible for matching collection sites with PCSs. The matching centre would be funded by producers. Collection sites can choose to make their own arrangements for treatment. However, they have to use AATFs for treatment and they or the AATF have to report collection/treatment data to the government. Two options are being considered for the matching mechanism. The first involves developing a computer algorithm similar to the Italian and German systems that takes into account the following variables:
- Volume of WEEE arising at each collection point split by WEEE stream,
- Transportation costs from DCF to treatment facilities,
- Number of DCF, Distributors and other economic operators,
- Number of PCSs with B2C obligations,
- Volume of EEE placed on the market split by category, producer and aggregated to PCS level.
The second option is an auctioning process where PCSs would bid for WEEE tonnage and stream by DCF site.
So these are the options. The government seems to be favouring option 3 Collection Target and Compliance Fee slightly ahead of Option 4 PCS/DCF Matching. I picked up a couple of red flags that could lead to environmental and data security issues. If the auction process is adopted then this could lead to a squeezing of margins potentially resulting in AATFs cutting corners on proper processing and disposal.
With Options 3 and 4 there is a requirement for PCSs/AATFs to provide evidence free of charge as opposed to the existing system where evidence is paid for and traded.
With Option 2 National Compliance Scheme there is a suggestion of developing a Code of Practice for AATFs that may mitigate some illegal dumping and data security concerns. With Option 2 PCS/DCF Matching there is a suggestion that the existing voluntary Code of Practice would be strengthened.
Overall I think that options 3 and 4 would benefit producers in providing more cost transparency. However, this could have an adverse impact on data security as the PCS is free to contract with whichever collection and treatment partners it chooses. One of the RTC goals is to reduce the administrative burden on companies. I can’t immediately see where this would be achieved for AATFs. The admin burden for producers and compliance schemes will potentially be reduced. However, material control and reporting requirements around obligated and non-obligated WEEE could potentially be more complex for AATFs and DCFs with treatment facilities definitely requiring robust track and trace software systems.
I would be particularly interested in the views of AATF operators. Perhaps there is an opportunity for a collective or aligned response from the industry?
Remember responses due by June 21st 2013!
To participate in the consultation survey click here www.surveymonkey.com/s/weee-consultation-2013