Kerbside collection fund to invest up to £3 million to increase recycling and correct disposal of WEEE
What do we do with our current household WEEE?
Small electricals are too often ending up in people’s bins and are not correctly collected and recycled. REPIC reports that there is growing concern that small mixed WEEE is entering the UK waste stream. Household waste analysis studies indicate that 1-2% of household black bag waste is made up of WEEE. 1 in 4 households put smaller broken electricals in the general household waste bin! To help address this issue the WEEE fund is launching a small waste electricals kerbside collection investment fund. Up to £3 million has been allocated from 2020 to end 2022.
Money is collected largely through the payment of a ‘compliance fee’ by producer compliance schemes that have been unable to meet their WEEE targets. More than £10 million has been collected through the fee since it was first used in 2016.
In the UK we are still behind on our collection targets, putting the country at risk of missing out on its annual targets for the third consecutive year in a row. The UK is especially falling behind on small mixed WEEE, with only 41% of the year’s required tonnage having been collected in the first two quarters.
How are the targets calculated?
WEEE collection targets are calculated based on the amount of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) placed on the market over the previous three years. It is now required under the EU WEEE Directive – transposed into UK law as the WEEE Regulations 2013 – that 65 per cent of the weight of EEE placed on the market (POM) or 85 per cent of WEEE generated (WG) in the preceding three years should be collected each year.
Mark Burrows-Smith, chief executive of REPIC, suggests there is not always a straightforward relationship between the amount of EEE placed on the market (POM) and WEEE disposal: “While reported EEE POM is ahead of the same quarter in 2018, this is likely to have been influenced by the implementation of open scope and some Brexit-related stock imports. With a whole range of factors impacting WEEE that arises for collection, the reality is that an item of EEE POM does not always result in an item of WEEE arising for collection.”
Changes to the technology entering the EEE market, such as products becoming lightweight, could have an impact on the tonnage of WEEE collected, as well as socio-economic factors.
“Improved data remains key to progress,” affirmed Burrows-Smith. “Looking ahead, the WEEE Fund’s ‘route to waste’ research will help to uncover how variant product flows impact WEEE arising for collection. Funding for local authority kerbside initiatives and upcoming communications campaigns will also play an important part in encouraging consumers to deposit available household WEEE in the official system.”
Phil Conran, Chair of the Approved Authorised Treatment Facility (AATF) Forum, which represents the UK’s WEEE reprocessors, added: “Something must be done to switch the focus back to collection growth. The WEEE is out there, but either it is not being collected or more worryingly, it is being collected but not being properly treated. Hopefully Defra’s review of the regulations [in the Resources and Waste Strategy] will bring about the reform needed to achieve the intended environmental objectives rather than low-cost compliance.”
Why is it important to recycle WEEE?
Each WEEE device contains multiple valuable and increasingly endangered elements.
“There are about 30 different elements just in a smartphone,” said Elisabeth Ratcliffe from the Royal Society of Chemistry, “and many of them are very rare.”
“There’s not a lot of it in the Earth and you need a kilo of ore to extract just a few milligrams of indium.”
Most of us will not have heard of tantalum, but it’s a highly corrosion-resistant metal that is “perfect for small electronic devices like our phones”, explained Ms Ratcliffe. “But it’s also perfect for hearing aids and pace-makers,” she told BBC News.
Scientists estimate that indium and tantalum mines, among others, could run out within a century. Meanwhile, our demand for new technology continues to increase.
“Even the copper in all that wire is not endlessly abundant,” added Ms Ratcliffe. “On top of that, most of these devices are coated in plastic, which could be recycled.”
PRM thrilled to provide THM equipment for WEEE Recycling
The tremendously powerful THM TQZ Turbo Crusher plays a central role in crushing of electrical and electronic waste. At the beginning of a recycling plant, the TQZ Turbo-Crusher dismantled the equipment into its components, but without destroying the single components and parts. As the single components stay intact any pollutants remain inside and will not escape. Components such as circuit boards, capacitors, copper and iron are separated from each other. Throughput rates of up to 17 t / h also speak for the TQZ Turbo-crusher. Thanks to low wear costs and long service lifetime high efficiency is guaranteed. Talk to us today to discuss your WEEE recycling equipment requirements