WEEE collection rate falls in 2013
The proportion of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) collected on behalf of compliance schemes in 2013 has fallen in comparison to previous years according to the latest official data.
Provisional figures published by the Environment Agency this week (March 3), show that the total collection rate for household and non-household waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) has reached 34.04% in proportion to the volume of new products placed onto the market.
This compares to an overall collection rate of 35.39% in 2012, when a greater tonnage of WEEE was also collected (see letsrecycle.com story).
The official 2013 collection target – to collect a minimum of 4kg of WEEE per capita – was comfortably met, with roughly 7.7kg collected per person.
But, progress towards the new targets brought in under the WEEE recast will be measured proportionately by comparing the tonnage of WEEE collected in a given year, to the average volume of new products placed onto the market over the preceding three years. If measuring the 2013 data in this manner, the UK will have only achieved a collection rate of 32.98%, some way short of the 45% target.
Overall, a total of 472,868 tonnes of household WEEE were collected throughout 2013, compared to a total of 488,938 tonnes in 2012.
Collections of non-household WEEE recorded by compliance schemes remained low, but did show a slight increase on previous years, with 17,882 tonnes collected in 2013, compared to 15,848 tonnes in 2012.
The stalling WEEE collection rate may be of some concern to the
Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), as the UK is
required under EU law to achieve the overall collection rate of 45% by
However, under the new WEEE regulations which came into effect in January, BIS is able to count ‘substantiated estimates’ of the amount of WEEE treated outside of the compliance system towards the overall collection rate.
Some in the sector have dismissed concerns over the figures, claiming that the falling tonnages of WEEE are likely to be attributable to fewer ‘heavier’ televisions entering the waste stream, with lightweighting of products continuing to see tonnages of both new and waste equipment falling.
Commenting on the figures, Philip Morton, chief executive of compliance scheme REPIC, said: "We have now reached a point where all of the heavy televisions have come out and the amount of WEEE coming out is showing a steady decline. We know that BIS and the Environment Agency are aware of these trends.
"The weights of products that are being bought are going down and the weights that are coming back are starting to reflect that, so there needs to be a level of science and common sense applied.
"It may well be that through the producer compliance systems the overall tonnage may go down so BIS may want to make use of substantiated estimates of non-obligated WEEE to meet the targets.”
David Adams, managing director at compliance scheme Clarity Environmental, added: "As with the last quarter, the latest data shows increases in EEE placed on the market, reflecting the nation's increasing optimism and confidence in the economy. Figures show a positive Christmas period, with 65kt more placed on the market than the previous quarter and 19kt more than the same period last year.
"There was a 50% increase in Display on the previous quarter but, as a likely result of the new lighter LED screens, we are down 4kt on the same period last year. Other smaller electrical categories, including tools and toys, are also showing increases."