Defra last week published its long-anticipated consultation on reforms to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013.
The consultation runs from 28 December 2023 to 7 March 2024.
According to Defra, the British public wrongly throw 155,000 tonnes of smaller household electricals such as cables, toasters, kettles and power tools in the bin every year.
Currently, the existing framework governing the collection and management of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) operates on the principle of 'collective producer responsibility. Companies manufacturing electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) contribute financially in accordance with their market share.
Household WEEE undergoes separate collection, primarily facilitated through household waste and recycling centres. Since 2007, producers have borne the financial responsibility for the collection and proper treatment of household WEEE.
Defra has said that it wants views on how it can make re-use and recycling WEEE easier by expanding the existing collections infrastructure to make it more convenient for the public and businesses.
Measures that Defra have outlined in the consultation which will be introduced “from 2026” include:
- UK-wide collections of waste electricals directly from households
- Large retailers rolling out collection drop points for electrical items in-store, free of charge, without the need to buy a replacement product.
- Retailers and online sellers taking on responsibility for collecting unwanted or broken large electrical items such as fridges or cookers when delivering a replacement.
Defra said the proposals will mean consumers will be able to recycle their goods during their weekly shop or without even leaving the house.
As part of its proposal’s Defra said it will “ensure suppliers of vapes properly finance the cost of their separate collection and treatment when the items become waste”. This will be done through making vapes a separate category under the regulations, obligating producers of them to cover the cost of recycling.
Other measures Defra has mentioned include extending obligations to contribute to the collection of waste electricals and the financing of their recycling and preparation for reuse to online marketplaces such as Amazon. The body have said: “This would ensure that major international suppliers have to comply with the regulations as well – not just British businesses,”
Defra added that increasing the collection and recycling of waste electricals has the potential to drive greater investment in the UK’s treatment and re-use sector, helping to create British jobs and deliver on the Prime Minister’s priority of growing the economy.
Call for Evidence
Alongside the consultation they have also launched call for evidence which aims to gather evidence and views to support the reforms to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013 that will go beyond the proposals set out in this initial consultation. The evidence sought will inform wider policy developments with the intent to further drive towards Net Zero and circular economy commitments. Policy proposals arising from this call for evidence will require development and consultation therefore will be phased in over a longer timeframe.
View our related story: "Defra consults on WEEE compliance fee for 2023" [25/10/23]