What do the new WEEE collection targets mean for the UK?
In our last online poll, we asked participants for their thoughts about the recently-announced WEEE collection targets.
It seemed a pertinent topic to explore. At the start of spring, Defra announced that 622,033 tonnes is now the overall target for 2017, significantly less than the EU’s 776,000 tonnes target. Rationale for the change has been widely aired in the industry’s media, as has Defra’s claim that the shortfall can be made up by WEEE arising and treated from sources outside of the producer responsibility system.
At UNTHA UK, we were left feeling a little deflated by the news that proposals for higher WEEE collection targets were rejected. But we wanted to know if the wider industry shared our views.
So, the May poll asked people to select the statement they most agree with, and the results were as follows:
- They’re too high, we can’t achieve them – 8%
- They’re too low, they risk stalling progress – 58%
- They’re just right, Defra has made the right decision – 9%
- It’s too difficult to say – 25%
It seems that most people echo our thoughts, although perhaps lots of us are just sitting tight at the moment and hoping for the best, knowing that, in truth, we just can’t comment with any certainty at this stage.
Our MD Marcus Brew wrote for CIWM magazine a few weeks ago on the subject. He said: “We echoed the ESA views in CIWM’s March edition – that poorly-set targets in recent years have perhaps gone some way to stagnating the progress of the UK’s WEEE regime. And, because of this, we’d similarly hoped that the consultation this spring would bring about some more ambitious revisions.
“The country’s recycling landscape looks far from straightforward moving forward, and as a survey from The Recycling Association revealed on the CIWM website in early April, poor material quality is probably the biggest threat. But surely this is so intrinsically linked to the targets we all strive to achieve. A more robust supply chain approach is required, and I do believe bolder targets play a significant role in driving the collective impetus to improve.
“Of course it is a careful balance – if targets were unrealistically difficult we’d struggle to attain them, and some less scrupulous firms may even cut corners in an attempt to appear as though they’re meeting their obligations.
“On the other hand, if direction is weak or goals lack any real vigour, I fear that a more passive mindset will remain. But we can no longer afford for WEEE to be considered someone else’s problem. We must all sit up and instigate change, whether the targets require us to or not.”
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