WEEE compliance fee to take Covid-19 into account, says Defra

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced yesterday (8 June) that any methodology for calculating the 2020 waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) compliance fee will take the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic into account.

Government lockdown measures implemented to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus have caused difficulty for the WEEE sector, with significant disruption to local authority waste services, such as Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs), and in-store retailer takeback schemes.

Costs of compliance WEEE CornerIn making its announcement on proposals for the new compliance fee methodology, Defra stated: ‘WEEE collection volumes have dropped significantly in Quarter 2 of 2020. Although we do not yet know the extent to which these cumulative effects will impact on the volume of collections for the full year, we recognise an overall decrease in WEEE collection is highly likely.

‘In recognition of this likely decrease, we expect proposals submitted for the compliance fee methodology for the 2020 compliance year to have due regard to, and take account of, the actual impacts that Covid-19 has had on collections during this compliance year. That said, it remains critically important that PCSs do all they possibly can to ensure that all WEEE available for collection is delivered into treatment facilities.’

The WEEE compliance fee is paid by obligated producer compliance schemes (PCS) that fail to obtain sufficient evidence to meet their collection targets under the 2013 WEEE Regulations. Funds collected through the compliance fee mechanism are then used to fund WEEE recycling and reuse schemes.

New proposals for the compliance fee methodology for 2020 will need to be submitted by 30 September 2020 to be considered by Environment Secretary George Eustice.

WEEE collection figures for the first quarter of 2020 were slightly ahead of 2020 targets when revealed last week (1 June), but industry experts issued warnings of a “bleak” outlook for the rest of the year, with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic seeing steep falls in WEEE collections.

Robbie Staniforth, Head of Policy at Ecosurety, welcomed the fact Defra will take Covid-19 impacts into consideration when reviewing proposals for the 2020 compliance fee methodology, though he had reservations over what new ideas would be brought forth due to the complexity of the WEEE system. He said: “The engagement with industry from Defra during this difficult period has been excellent. We are pleased to see them incorporate feedback into the newly released guidance. While WEEE collections have significantly reduced due to business and recycling centre closures, it is particularly heartening to see them stress the critical importance of compliance schemes continuing to deliver as much WEEE to treatment facilities as possible.

“Unfortunately, the guidance is unlikely to entice new parties to submit proposals to operate the fee. The complexity of the system means it would entail a significant amount of work in order to compete with the well-established proposals submitted annually. Having a diverse range of ideas to choose from is essential for ensuring the best possible outcome. It is difficult to see how this issue can be addressed.”

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