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New report reconsiders WEEE issues

November 16, 2018


Commissioned by compliance scheme REPIC, the report set out to “independently investigate and report” on models for “post-consumer waste forecasting”.

As Recycling and Waste World reports, REPIC commissioned the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster University to carry out the study.

The report found that “forecasting targets was challenging for a series of reasons, including the varying durability of different devices”. In addition, “some products are hoarded for years while others are thrown away immediately”.

“It’s a complex landscape, there are lots of things that influence what people buy and then throw away but the targets are staying the same regardless,” says REPIC external affairs manager Sarah Downes. “There’s a real gap forming; when sales of new electrical products drop, so does WEEE, but Defra’s electrical targets keep rising. Defra is taking into account the complexity, but there’s limitations to what you can do with the data available.”

Currently, around 60 percent of the e-waste generated by the UK does not get funnelled through authorised waste management platforms.

Downes adds: “We need to try and get better data on the stuff that doesn’t come through the system; one of the key elements is being able to model what we expect to be generated as WEEE so we’ve got a good handle for the gap in WEEE collected.”

Lancaster University analysed a number of models for the report, before concluding that “an amended version of the Dutch Waste Over Time model […] should be implemented.”

This new prototype model compiled for the report “uses the basis of the WOT model but with ore variables to develop new data and lead to more accurate target setting.” It could also be helpful in cracking down on waste crime.

REPIC CEO Mark Burrows-Smith says. “In the UK, there’s a fractured WEEE dataset and it’s difficult to determine how electrical goods are being disposed of. Some routes are perfectly legal and traceable, while other routes sadly involve illegal activity.”

Described as “a welcome contribution to the continuing issues around how to get more transparency in the WEEE sector”, it is hoped that the report will lead to “a large engagement” from the industry.

Downes says: “We’ve funded this first phase of work which has basically been a scoping exercise to develop the prototype. We have reviewed all of the available data from key parts of the industry and identified a way forward in terms of improvement to gather better data. We have also made an app for funds to complete the model and improve data gathering.”

She also goes on to add, ““The biggest piece of work is going to be engaging the key players in the sectors, a lot of products are going through the charity reuse sector so we need to understand their numbers.”



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