Re-casting an eye over WEEE

With the recast of the European WEEE Directive apparently finalised and the Red Tape Challenge in the UK, Nigel Harvey provides an update on possible changes to the waste electrical and electronic equipment regulations

The government is now actively considering a range of short-term changes to the operation of the WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) Regulations, following a review of the ‘red tape’ that affects businesses – which identified that dealing with WEEE may be the cause of excessive costs to businesses.

In April 2011, the coalition government announced a policy of reviewing the regulatory burdens on businesses, termed the ‘Red Tape Challenge’. The objective was to encourage businesses to propose regulatory changes that would remove or change unnecessary legal requirements. In September 2011 Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Defra, announced that the ‘environmental theme’ of the challenge would include all waste legislation. The call for responses was launched by Robert Hunt, Executive Director of Veolia, and was open to receive comments from any interested parties for a three-week period.

Nigel HarveyResponses were considered by the government and the outcome was announced in March 2012. In her response, the Secretary of State announced that the department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) would consult on some short- and long-term measures aimed at reducing the costs associated with WEEE compliance. BIS has already invited a range of stakeholders to propose short-term solutions to reduce the costs to businesses and they are now considering the options, but have not yet reached any conclusions.

At the same time, BIS has also announced a more formal ‘call for evidence’. This is aimed at producers with responsibilities under the WEEE Regulations, WEEE producer compliance schemes (PCSs), and WEEE recyclers. The intention appears to be to attempt to track the costs associated with WEEE at each stage of the chain, from producers, through PCSs, and on to recyclers. The request is for information regarding the costs actually incurred by all three groups. On that basis, it may be possible for BIS to identify if excessive charging takes place, and if so, the possible causes. This, in turn, should allow BIS to re-evaluate the operation of the regulations, to ensure that they act in the most appropriate way.

The call for evidence closes on 23 July 2012, and all three groups have been encouraged to respond. Details can be found on the BIS website at:

Nigel Harvey is Chief Executive of the lamp producer compliance scheme, Recolight