Legislative update Winter 2015
UK consultation on WEEE compliance fees
On 24 October 2014, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published a consultation on proposed methodologies for calculating the compliance fee that producer compliance schemes (PCSs) must pay if they fail to meet their targets for collection and treatment of household waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).
It is estimated that two million tonnes of WEEE items are discarded by householders and companies in the UK every year. The WEEE Regulations aim to reduce the amount of electrical and electronic waste going to landfill sites and improve recovery and recycling rates of these products.
Under the WEEE Regulations, PCSs are obliged to finance the costs of collection, recovery and environmentally-sound disposal of WEEE for their members. Where a PCS has not met the collection target for which its members are responsible in a particular compliance period, the PCS may choose to meet its obligation for the compliance period by paying a compliance fee.
The compliance fee is intended to discourage PCSs from collecting WEEE significantly above their targets and then seeking to sell that surplus at a premium to PCSs that are short of their target amount.
In August 2014, the government invited proposals for compliance fee methodologies to be submitted, and it received three such submissions. The consultation allows interested parties including producers of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), PCSs, WEEE treatment facilities and others within the reuse sector, to provide their views on:
- whether the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills should approve a compliance fee for 2014; and
- the three proposals for compliance fee methodologies that have been submitted, and whether they meet the government’s evaluation criteria.
The consultation closed on 28 November 2014, and the government is expected to announce whether it has approved a compliance fee methodology and compliance fee scheme operator by mid-February 2015.
UK consultation on technical guidance WM3 for the classification and assessment of waste
On 12 November 2014, the Environment Agency (EA), on behalf of the joint agencies for devolved administrations, launched a consultation on technical guidance WM3 for the classification and assessment of waste.
The way that waste is assessed and classified in the UK is set to change significantly in June 2015. This is in order to align waste legislation with the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation 2008 and other changes in the law, which include:
- amendments to the list of waste (or European Waste Catalogue);
- a major revision of the definition of hazardous properties; and
- the adoption of the new system of chemical classification.
As a result, the EA is updating its technical guidance WM3 for the classification and assessment of waste to reflect these new changes.
The main areas of the guidance that have been amended include the framework for assessment of waste, changes to the list of waste, information to help find the classification of a chemical, and new criterion for hazardous properties.
The consultation seeks responses as to whether the EA’s proposed amendments to its technical guidance are correct and whether the presentation and clarity of the changes could be improved. The consultation also seeks views on whether the new hazardous waste criteria have a significant impact on any individual waste or waste stream. A government response is expected within three months of the closing date of the consultation of 5 February 2015.
Sam Sandilands is part of Burges Salmon’s Energy and Environment unit, and can be reached on