UK lamp recycling hits 39.5 per cent in 2012


The UK recycled 39.5 per cent of all lamps put on the market in 2012, according to provisional waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) figures released by the Environment Agency. 

Figures, based on tonnages of waste recycled by producer compliance schemes (PCSs), show that the total collection rate for all WEEE reached 35.37 per cent in 2012, up from 34.41 per cent the year before.

The lighting industry was found to have been one of the most improved WEEE industries, after seeing lamp recycling increase by over 10 per cent between 2011 and 2012 (from 29.4 per cent to 39.5 per cent), the fourth year in a row that the recycling rate for this sector increased. 

2012’s lamp recycling figure was markedly higher than the business to business (B2B) rate for all WEEE sectors – which sat at around five per cent, the same as in 2011. 

According to Recolight, the UK’s compliance scheme for the lighting industry, the increase in recycling rates was due to ‘the commitment of lamp producer and importer members’. 

Speaking of the figures, Recolight’s Chief Executive Officer, Nigel Harvey, said: “The excellent recycling rates the UK has achieved have only been possible with the commitment of all Recolight members. 

“The lighting industry has set the benchmark for business WEEE recycling. We already know that our sector accounts for a higher proportion of business WEEE recycled over put-on-market EEE than any other industry. Now the 2012 figures demonstrate that we are well on the way to meeting the first set of higher targets outlined within the recast WEEE Directive. 

“This success is testament to the commitment of all our lamp producer and importer members, and also to the foresight of our founding members who created Recolight’s unique model. The continued commitment of our members ensures that the lighting industry maintains the highest levels of compliance with the WEEE Regulations now and in the future.” 

WEEE recycling rates of gas discharge lamps in the UK (calculated by comparing the tonnage of recycling recorded by all compliance schemes with the tonnage of all new lamps put on the market by all UK producers, aggregating household and business figures). 

lamp recycling

Data collection methods should be altered 

Recolight noted that the increase in recycling was also partly due to a reduction in the tonnage of new lamps put on the market (without a corresponding reduction in tonnages of lamps recycled), resulting in a higher capture rate. 

This reflected an overall trend for the WEEE sector, as the tonnages of material collected from households and businesses fell from 517,142 tonnes in 2011 to 504,563 tonnes in 2012, while the amount of new products placed on the market in 2012 fell by over 76,000 tonnes.

Responding to the figures, David Burton, Project Director of B2B Compliance, argued that data collection methods should now be altered to ensure that the actual level of B2B WEEE collection is recorded.

He said: “The so-called low collection rates of B2B WEEE remaining unchanged at around five per cent clearly demonstrates the inadequacy of the current system of counting what happens to end-of-life equipment from the non-household sector.

“Much of B2B EEE is either collected for refurbishment, or deployed under extensive long-term maintenance contracts. In the latter case, such EEE is subject to constant updating and, ultimately, stripped for spares – in all circumstances the spare parts are out of scope and the discarded shells, not being complete products, are not WEEE by definition.

“In all reality the collection rate of B2B WEEE and used EEE is probably on a par with the B2C [business to consumer] sector, but the majority is simply not being captured by the current data collection methodology.”

Read the provisional WEEE recycling figures for 2012.