Are new WEEE recycling targets achievable?

Last month, DEFRA announced the 2019 WEEE recycling targets which are 12% higher than the amount of household WEEE collected by compliance schemes in 2018. The higher targets are required to meet EU requirements but given the UK failed to meet 2018 targets, are these new WEEE recycling targets achievable?

EU WEEE targets

Small appliances for recycling at Wiser Recycling's Thetford facility for waste electrical and electronic equipmentThe UK is now required by the EU to collect the equivalent of 65% of the weight of all electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market during the previous three years. The previous target stood at 45%. As a result of the new EU target, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has set the new UK target at over 550,000 tonnes, an increase of 58,000 tonnes on what was reported last year.

The increased targets include a 49% rise in the tonnage of small household appliances, a 43% increase in electrical and electronic tools, a 24% increase in small mixed WEEE and a 7% increase in lamp waste.

AATF Forum calls

The Approved Authorised Treatment Facility (AATF) operators – including Wiser Recycling – who represent around 80% of the UK’s WEEE treatment capacity have welcomed the new target having criticised DEFRA’s proposals to reduce last year’s targets.

However, this welcome is guarded as the Forum believes that the compliance fee, set by DEFRA each year and paid by compliance schemes that haven’t collected enough, is too low.

Russell Hirst, Managing Director, Wiser Recycling says: “Only by increasing the compliance fee will DEFRA incentivise compliance schemes to collect more and ensure that WEEE waste that is being disposed of is captured and processed compliantly. The UK needs ambitious targets and these are achievable but only if we have a system that accounts for all WEEE placed on the market.”

Read more about the new 2019 WEEE targets.

Find out more about Wiser Recycling’s WEEE recycling services.