Materials

New funding announced to increase WEEE re-use and recycling

Producers and retailers of electronic equipment announced yesterday (1 August) the launch of a new £665,000 fund to support community projects run by local authorities to promote and increase the re-use and recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

The funding comes from the Distributor Takeback Scheme (DTS) and the Compliance fee mechanism which were both established under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013, which were transposed from the EU WEEE Directive and require producers to bear the financial cost of collection and treatment of all WEEE deposited at Household Waste Recycling Centres.

New funding announced to increase WEEE re-use and recycling

The DTS, set up in 2007, is run by Valpak Retail WEEE Services, an environmental compliance consultant, and offers members an alternative to providing in-store take back services. Instead, members pay a fee that covers their WEEE obligations up until December 2019, with all money going to support local authorities WEEE recycling facilities.

Local authorities are now seeking proposals from potential partner organisations with innovative and sustainable ideas for projects that would aim to deliver increased collections of WEEE for re-use and recycling.

Speaking about the funding announcement, Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said: “With more than a million tonnes of electrical equipment waste generated in the UK each year, it is encouraging to see that around 60 per cent is already being recycled or reused.

“We want to build on this, and todays’ funding will help support creative local projects that encourage us to do even more to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill.”

It is hoped that the funding will boost recycling rates of what is a notoriously difficult-to-recycle waste stream. On average, over 1.5 million tonnes of new electronic products are placed on the UK market each year, but only about 500,000 tonnes of waste electronics are recycled. WEEE recycling processes are diverse and complex due to the variety of electronic products and materials used to make them, and failure to recycle items properly sees valuable materials such as rare earth elements (REEs), which are very costly to extract, wasted and lost.

More information on WEEE recycling is available in a feature for Resource 84 in May 2016, ‘Talking responsibility for WEEE’

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