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JTA welcomes strong support for WEEE reform

August 28, 2013

ewasteJoint Trade Association (JTA) voices agreement with majority of respondents to consultation favouring change in UK Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) system.

The JTA, which represents the eight major trade associations in the electrical sector along with four producer-owned and led WEEE compliance schemes, has announced that it welcomes the strong support for major reform of the UK WEEE system indicated by the majority of respondents to the Government’s consultation.

256 responses to the consultation were received and summarised by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills, with respondents answering 23 questions on the Government’s plans for WEEE reform, which includes four potential approaches to take: Option 1 – to do nothing; Option 2 – to implement a National Producer Compliance Scheme; Option 3 – to implement a target and compliance fee system; and Option 4 – to implement a “Matching Process”.

According to Richard Hughes, Chairman of the JTA, 49 percent of the respondents ranked Option 4 as their preferred option, with 95 percent of respondents naming Option 3 as either their first or second choice. Furthermore, 59 percent indicated that making no changes to the WEEE system would be their least preferred option, with Hughes commenting: “We are very pleased, although not surprised, at the strong level of support for changing to the WEEE system.  The Government now has a powerful mandate for change.”

He added that “both option 3 and 4 would be a good outcome for all stakeholders. Producers support these options because they remove the “must buy” market for WEEE evidence which is a cause of excessive costs in the current system, and because both options introduce a clear audit trail for WEEE treatment.”

Also welcomed by the JTA was the news that 82 percent of respondents believe that Local Authorities should have the opportunity to take responsibility for WEEE if they can gain value from recycling, with any untreated WEEE collected free of charge by producers. “This is right and proper,” said Hughes. “This is a great way to incentivise and reward Local Authorities for the work they do in WEEE collection.”

Commenting on the approach of using substantiated estimates to assess the total amount of WEEE recycled in the UK but which is no recorded in the UK’s formal WEEE system, Hughes said: “The JTA is also pleased that the Government received ‘broad support’ for this approach.  Without it, the extremely ambitious targets in the new Directive would not be achievable.”

Nigel Harvey, CEO of Recolight, a member of the JTA, said: “We are delighted by the very strong support for the changes to the household WEEE system, to make it fairer for all stakeholders […] I am particularly pleased that 84 percent of respondents supported the Government’s proposal to include LED and Gas Discharge Lamps in the same category.  This proposal will benefit the UK by avoiding the risk of an unfunded (orphan) fluorescent lamp waste stream.

“We were also pleased that responses came from a wide range of sectors.  Given the very real concerns expressed by Producers about the operation of the system, it is unsurprising that 100 of the 256 responses came from Producers.  However, there were also significant responses from Local Authorities, Producer Compliance Schemes, and Waste Management Companies.  That makes it all the more pleasing that the overall support for change was so clear.”

Hughes concluded: “The responses to the consultation show strong convergence.  We now look forward to working with BIS and other stakeholders to finalise the details to ensure timely and effective implementation for the 2014 compliance period.”

The JTA and a number of electronic equipment manufacturers had previously voiced their opinion on the benefits of WEEE reform in the UK, while a HP report suggested that the UK could save millions by making changes to the WEEE system currently in place.

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