Consultation on proposed amendments to the 2013 WEEE Regulations – Post implementation review
As part of the current WEEE consultation, the Government are asking the following questions about how the 2013 WEEE regulations work:
- Have they increased WEEE recycling in the UK?
- Have they stimulated investment in WEEE treatment capacity?
- Have they properly addressed concerns regarding the old (2007) regulations that costs were higher that the true costs of collection and treatment?
- Has the introduction of “authorised representatives” meant internet sellers based outside the UK are compliant?
Increased WEEE recycling rates
The WEEE regulations have had a positive impact on recycling rates in the lighting sector. Below is a summary of the UK recycling rates for lamps (category 13) and luminaires (category 5), recorded since 2012.
These show strong year on year growth. The temporary drop in the lamp recycling rate between 2013 and 2014 was caused because LED lamps were brought into category 13 in 2014. With large numbers of LED lamps being placed on the market, but only small numbers arising in the WEEE stream, this inevitably reduced the rate in 2014.
Investment in WEEE treatment capacity
The tonnage of luminaires recycled in the UK is only a small proportion of the total tonnage recycled by general WEEE recyclers, and so the impact of the lighting industry is negligible.
However, lamps are recycled by dedicated facilities. A review of the accounts published on companies house shows, on average, both staff numbers and capital investment have increased in the last two years across the six companies that recycle lamps in the UK.
Addressing concerns regarding the old (2007) regulations that costs were higher that the true costs of collection and treatment
Under the WEEE system in place prior to 2014, Recolight, was frequently charged excessive rates for household WEEE evidence. We are pleased that the Government changed the regulations in the way they did. By eliminating the “must buy” market, the new regulations meant that evidence costs moved towards the true costs of collection and treatment of WEEE.
Introduction of “authorised representatives” to ensure internet sellers based outside the UK are registered as producers in the UK
The Environment Agency has advised that the total number of Authorised Representatives appointed in the UK since 2013 is just 1. At the same time, the UK consultancy Eunomia, in a draft report prepared for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have estimated that the level of freeriding through online retailers and fulfilment houses is 5-10% of all EEE – and more for smaller electrical products.
A recent Recolight study shows the huge extent of online freeriding in the UK.
A legal review of one fulfilment house contract shows that the producer, wherever they are based, is responsible for all compliance issues, including WEEE/packaging/batteries, VAT, import duty, CE marking etc. In other words, the producer, wherever they are based is also, for the purposes of WEEE, the importer.
Given that there are so few ARs appointed in the UK, it is evident that this has not addressed this large and growing online freeriding problem. The lighting sector is being significantly impacted by the competitive disadvantage this places on legitimate businesses.
Regarding ideas for improvement, the online freeriding problem was discussed at a major workshop in Brussels, in September 2017. The workshop concluded that online sellers and fulfilment houses should be legally required to take on the duties of “producer” under the WEEE directive for the product they sell or stock on behalf of non WEEE registered companies. We would urge the Government to adopt this approach for WEEE, and other extended producer responsibility regimes.
The consultation opened on 20 October 2017 and responses are invited by the 8 December 2017
To have your say, follow this link to the Defra Consultation website