We all saw this coming but were powerless to stop it.
Back in January 2015, the introduction of the WEEE2 Regulations fundamentally changed the landscape for WEEE recycling. With a loss of the closed market for evidence, trading recyclers face a precarious existence of not knowing whether they can find a home for the evidence they produce (and hence paid for work done), whilst at the say time are legally committed to provide a free service to local authorities to whom they are contracted to serve.
In this environment it takes a very brave (or foolhardy) company to invest in expensive recycling plant. Combine this with a drop in commodity values over the last two years and a reduction in fridge recycling capacity as a result of new EA guidance, forcing the closure of old and outdated recycling facilities, recycling capacity is now below the level of waste fridge output. This year has also seen a significant increase in waste fridges.
Brexit and the floods last winter have been cited, in part, as causes of a 20% increase in waste fridges requiring recycling. Despite the difficult market conditions there is possibly light at the end of the tunnel. Two new facilities are planned for opening in quarter 2/3, in both cases these are being funded by businesses that have their own supply of waste fridges. Regardless, this will hopefully readdress the balance.
In the meantime, we will experience an anxious New Year as the seasonal increase in January and February of waste fridges will put further strain on the remaining 8 recovery plants. If one should shut for any reason, the current challenge will become a certain crisis.