Overhauling WEEE rules could save £64m a year

13th June 2013

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Simplifying the producer responsibility regime for electronic waste could save local authorities and businesses up to £64 million each year, according to computer giant Hewlett Packard (HP)

As a part of the government’s pledge to cut “red tape”, the business department (BIS) is currently consulting on how the rules governing the collection and treatment of waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) could be less burdensome.

According to a report commissioned by HP, creating a system that didn’t impose annual collection targets for producers, but instead linked WEEE collectors – such as local authorities – to producer compliance schemes (PCSs) would simplify the process and save the UK economy annually between £35 million and £64 million.

“A ‘matching process’ provides local authorities with greater flexibility and choice than the current system and will support efforts to increase collection,” explained HP’s Dr Kirstie McIntyre. “It provides collectors of WEEE with the flexibility to choose by waste stream, between a producer collection scheme or managing WEEE collection independently and retaining the value of this WEEE.”

The report claims that WEEE could provide local authorities with an additional income of £20 million a year if the ‘matching process’ proposal was implemented, whereas keeping the existing producer responsibility scheme would cost producers of electrical and electronic equioment an extra £60 million annually.

The report also concludes that another option outlined by BIS, which would impose annual WEEE collection targets on PCSs and charge compliance fees if those targets are not met, would only generate savings of around £11– £26 million each year.

“Within this option it is possible for costs to continue both through the auctioning of collection sites to producer compliance schemes, and through the effective trading of evidence. Without effective control, these would both cause a proportion of the excessive costs and red tape to remain,” warned the report’s author, Phil Conran from consultancy 360 Environmental.

Conran’s analysis of the potential benefits of the ‘matching process’ option is more positive than BIS’s impact analysis, which concluded it was likely to generate a net benefit of £135 million over 10 years.

BIS’s consultation on its plans to amend the WEEE Regulations 2006 and ensure compliance with the recast WEEE Directive 2012/19/EU ends on 21 June.


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