The measures were announced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in its response to the consultation on bringing the requirements of the recast WEEE Directive into UK law and to address concerns from producers that the cost of compliance with the regulations did not reflect the true cost of recycling.
Draft regulations, which lay the foundations for the new regime, were published October 11th, with stakeholders given until November 1 to provide further comment. A target date of January 1st 2014, has been set for the new system to come into force.
Under the proposed new system, it will be compulsory for all producers will be required to join a producer compliance scheme, unless they fall below the de minimis threshold which exempts producers placing less than five tonnes onto the market per year.
Each compliance scheme will be given a tonnage target by category of EEE placed onto the market in proportion to the UK target and the total market share of their members during the previous year.
Trading of evidence, which producers claim was leading to an increase in the overall cost that they were paying for compliance with the regulations, will be outlawed under the new system.
Over-collecting schemes will be required to finance the excess or retain the income, and under-collecting schemes will have to pay a ‘compliance fee’ per tonne of WEEE it has been unable to collect or face sanctions for non-compliance.
Waste electrical equipment: under the new system the trading of evidence will be outlawed
Local authorities will also be given greater freedom to choose WEEE streams that they would like to manage and treat directly, and will absorb any revenue or cost for handling the waste.
Business Minister Michael Fallon said that the proposals will help to reduce costs for businesses.
He added: “The regulations published today will reduce the cost of compliance for business, bring greater flexibility for local authorities and ensure we meet the requirements of the revised European legislation. The changes to the household WEEE collection system will put us on track to meet the higher collection targets agreed in Europe and drive up the quality of treatment in the UK.”
Four proposed options for the future of the WEEE system were outlined in the government’s consultation, which originally launched in April. These included:
- Option 1: No change and continue with the current system;
- Option 2: Introduce a ‘National Producer Compliance Scheme’, instead of competition between current compliance schemes;
- Option 3: 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;
- Option 4: Matching collection sites to compliance schemes.
Reactions from the sector are expected next week as the implications of the changes filter through.
While there is likely to be strong support in some quarters for the BIS decision, alternative views have been expressed by some compliance schemes. These have argued that the current system only needed minor adjustments and questioned the need for structural changes to the regime.