The Recycling Minister, Rebecca Pow, has approved plans which will see larger retailers having to offer instore take-back for waste electrical and electronic equipment from January 2021.
On 24 December 2019, Defra said that the minister had approved the takeback requirement. This represents changes to the current UK WEEE system where the main focus on retailers has seen them contribute towards the provision of collection facilities at local authority household waste recycling centres.
This contribution of funding was to the Distributor Takeback Scheme and Defra has emphasised that larger retailers with physical premises will no longer have the option to join the scheme from 1 January 2021.
Under the changes, which will come into force in 2021, when a consumer buys an electrical product, the takeback of a similar item should be offered. There will be ways to mitigate this requirement such as providing a collection service when products are delivered, most likely for larger domestic appliances and televisions.
Online retailers, without physical retail premises, will be able to meet their recycling requirements through continuing to contribute towards local authority collection facilities until the end of 2021. The positioning of online retailers with regard to WEEE recycling is expected to be reviewed before then.
Responsibility for the supervision of take-back systems will not be with Defra but instead will be carried out by the Government’s Office for Product Safety and Standards. Defra said that the Office would: “be communicating with retailers in due course setting out their obligations as a result of this decision”.