WEEE collection rates fall as UK misses annual targets

The Environment Agency (EA) has released its annual household waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) collection figures, which show a 9 per cent decrease in collection rates compared to 2019.

WEEE collectionIn 2020, 459,737 tonnes of household WEEE was collected, compared to 496,976 tonnes last year.

The total amount of non-household WEEE collected in the UK has fallen to 6,286 tonnes, a decrease of 29.6 per cent compared to 2019.

Although collection figures have decreased, total household electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) placed on the market has risen by 10 per cent in 2020, to a total of 1,557,255 tonnes.

Non-household EEE placed on the market has fallen by 12 per cent.

With the increase of EEE placed on the market and the decrease in WEEE collected, the UK will have missed its WEEE collection targets again, after missing out for the third consecutive year last year.

WEEE collection targets are based on the amount of EEE placed on the market over the previous three year, with the EU WEEE Directive and UK WEEE Regulations 2013 stipulating that 65 per cent of the weight of EEE placed on the market should be collected each year.

In 2020, the tonnes of household WEEE collected equated to 31.9 per cent of the weight of EEE placed on the market.

This year's figures will have been affected by the ongoing effects of coronavirus, which caused collection points for WEEE to be closed during the first national lockdown.

The increase in EEE on the market is also likely to be linked to the increase in people working from home.

Speaking about the latest results, Chief Executive of the REPIC Louise Grantham commented: “As expected, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on both the purchasing of new appliances and the recycling of WEEE throughout 2020.

"Total household EEE placed on the market has risen by 10 per cent in 2020 when compared to 2019, with the tonnage in all but two categories increasing. This is likely to be reflective of the increase in home working in 2020, and householders generally spending more time at home.

"Unsurprisingly, WEEE collections did not recover sufficiently to address the impact the national lockdown had on WEEE collections in Quarter 2, when many collection points were closed.

"After recovering in Quarter 3, collections for most categories were again lower in Quarter 4, a period that saw further lockdowns.

It is difficult to draw many conclusions from the 2020 data, with the current lockdown continuing to affect collection levels, particularly across the local authority network."