Big WEEE changes are on their way

The announcement from Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for DEFRA, that the government would be investigating options to reduce WEEE costs for Producers is very welcome.  The problem she wants to tackle arises from the way the “Household obligation system” operates:

The household obligation system….

A Producer Compliance Scheme (PCS) such as Recolight is required to fund a percentage of  the UK’s household waste recycling in any one year, that is exactly equal to the market share of its producer members in that year, by category of product.  That would be fair, if the PCS was able to access its share of the waste directly, and then arrange for its collection and recycling.

… and why the household system doesn’t work

Unfortunately though, in many situations, a PCS does not have access to the waste it has to fund.  Instead, a PCS must purchase recycling certificates (termed “evidence notes”) from companies that control access to the waste, which can therefore charge a premium price to the PCS.  And because every PCS is legally required to pay for its share of the recycling, holders of the waste are always guaranteed a buyer – irrespective of cost.  That invariably makes “evidence notes” more expensive than the underlying recycling costs.

Government consultations have started

The news that the government will be consulting early in 2013 on some longer term options for change is therefore very welcome.  Even more pleasing is the announcement that they will also be reviewing options over the next three months for some short term solutions.  Although the final conclusion is clearly still a long way off, free of charge access to waste for a PCS, if it is required to fund that waste, would seem a fair outcome.

Suzanne Castine

Marketing Manager, Recolight - - As well as being in charge of effective communication and driving up membership of the Recolight WEEE scheme, Suzanne is chair of the Eucolight Marketing and Communication working group; a platform for sharing best practice with EU member state Producer Compliance Schemes.



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