The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has finalized 2022 collection targets for household waste, electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), confirming the quantities that producer compliance schemes must collect and send for recycling on behalf of their members.
For 2022, the overall target has been set at 511,377 tonnes, an increase of 20,836 tonnes (or 4.25%) over reported collections in 2021. It is also 7,748 tonnes higher than the target for 2021.
The annual target is split between the 14 categories of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), including small household appliances and lighting equipment.
When setting targets for this year, Defra did not take collection data from 2020 into account, saying this year has been classified as “extraordinary” for collections, due to widespread closures of recycling centers Household Waste Management (HWRC) during the COVID-19 pandemic. . According to the Ecosurety Compliance Program, this year’s more ambitious targets reflect “that in the absence of an impending lockdown, WEEE collections are expected to increase”.
2021 marked the fifth year in a row that the UK has failed to meet its household WEEE collection targets, although last year’s levels represented a marginal increase towards the threshold compared to previous years , with household collections only 2.6% (13,088 tonnes) below the target.
According to Ecosurety, Defra will “seek to close the gap between the targets and the actual WEEE reported as recycled in the system”, in its upcoming consultation on the reform of the WEEE producer responsibility system. The compliance program also noted that “as producers effectively fund recycling through their chosen compliance programs, there will be an increase in their market share obligation due to increased targets for this year.”
Responding to this year’s targets, Louise Grantham, Chief Executive of REPIC, said: “We recognize that setting collection targets for WEEE is challenging due to the complex relationship between EEE placed on the market and WEEE available for collection.
“Defra has taken a pragmatic approach when setting the 2022 targets; considering six years of collection data to examine trends, excluding 2020 data due to the extraordinary impact of Covid-19, and consulting with industry on category-specific issues requiring a review. However, meeting some of the category targets, in particular the overall 12% increase for the small mixed WEEE categories, will continue to be challenging.
“In setting targets for small mixed WEEE, Defra considered the potential full-year impact of mandatory in-store WEEE take-back and the Recycle Your Electricals consumer information campaign, now the vast majority of pandemic restrictions have been lifted. However, there is no guarantee that these initiatives will result in an increase in WEEE collections. According to our own consumer survey last year, nearly two-thirds of the market acquired a small household or kitchen appliance in the past 12 months, while just over a third left are cleared.
“Unfortunately, we are also in the midst of difficult and volatile economic times and it is difficult to assess the impact this may have on the achievement of targets. The upcoming WEEE consultation will provide an opportunity to review the basis of evidence and the role of targets in achieving a circular economy.
Explain missed goals
Talk to Resource Explaining why, according to REPIC, the UK has not met its household WEEE collection targets for the past five years, Grantham said: “WEEE is different from most other household waste streams. The same type of product can follow a very different path before finally ending up in the waste stream. Although the UK targets take into account data from previous years with regard to the analysis of what has been placed on the market and what has been declared as collected WEEE, it is difficult to predict what will become actually a WEEE in a given year. Products purchased are not always replacement products, and even when they are, the consumer may choose to donate the product, sell it for future use, give it away for repair or refurbishment, or keep at home.
“The pandemic has illustrated this again. In 2020 and 2021, the tonnage of EEE placed on the market increased by 10.2% and 14.7% respectively compared to 2019, but WEEE collections decreased.
“Consumer behavior is a primary factor in determining the amount of WEEE available for collection, and consumer research helps to better understand the fate of WEEE. Based on our own consumer survey last year, UK households asked about the purchase of new EEE and the disposal of electrical appliances in the last 12 months, indicated that 10% had acquired a large fridge/freezer, while only 5% got rid of it. . A similar ratio was reported for coffee machines, six to three percent, and dishwashers, four to two percent. For less frequently used items, such as sandwich makers, blenders, and mixers, the difference was even greater. »
“In a constantly fluctuating market, where many commercial and economic factors such as the value of residual materials can have a significant impact both on the production of WEEE and on the routes through which they pass, the absence of an obligation mandatory declaration for all actors who can influence the quantity of WEEE collected in the official system, means that many EEE flows and WEEE used are not accounted for. These may be legitimate and beneficial flows that we should encourage, such as reuse and refurbishment, or activities such as component theft and illegal export that we wish to prevent.
“As we move towards more circular economy practices, the practice of setting collection targets based on WEEE will only become more difficult. It is increasingly important that we think about the WEEE system as a whole. and how different incentives and requirements could be used to create a circular economy.”