Defra has proposed to slash its target for the collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) for 2020 by around 12,000 tonnes. The proposed target stands at 537,976 tonnes, down from a 550,577-tonne target for 2019. However, this target still represents a 9% increase in the total amount collected by compliance schemes in 2019. Earlier this month, it was confirmed that schemes collected a total of 494,976 tonnes of WEEE in 2019, missing the target for the third consecutive year. This is around 2,000 tonnes more than in 2018 year but falls some way short of the target of 65% of WEEE placed on the market set by the EU.
The fact the UK missed its target is not expected to cause a great amount of surprise, as Defra has already started on measures to improve the recycling rate. This includes in-store take-back for some retailers from next year. And, the 65% target is seen as unlikely to be met by many European countries.
Defra says the starting point for setting the 2020 targets was to undertake a five-year trend forecast to identify the total tonnage for collection of each individual category of WEEE. Adjustments were made for where the previous growth trend was judged not to be reflective of current market dynamics or where the forecast was judged to provide for too conservative targets.
Defra says it expects to see the increased collection of small mixed WEEE in 2020 following the launch of the compliance fee funded consumer behaviour campaign, changes to the distributor takeback scheme and an increased availability of kerbside collections.
Defra’s proposed collection targets were previously based on the collection of the equivalent of 65% of the new products put onto the market during the last three years, taking into account ‘substantiated estimates’ of WEEE which has been recycled outside of the WEEE system, for example by scrap metal recyclers.
The 65% target was set by the European Union and rose from 45% in 2018. With Britain now having left the EU it is unclear how these targets are to affect the sector in the future.