Significant changes expected to WEEE regulations

Posted on 18th November, 2008

Major changes to the WEEE Regulations are likely next year as a result of their clear failure to deal with the bulk of non-domestic (828) electrical and electronic waste.

Although Government ministers have patted themselves on the back and announced that the WEEE Regulations have been a great success, the fact is that, after 18 months, less than 30% of expected producers have registered.

However, recycling volumes are up. Ignoring the fact that scrap prices trebled over the past two years, it is fair to say that, from the point of view of domestic waste (B2C), the system has worked roughly to plan. But, with regard to B2B, the regulations have been hopeless. Less than 5% of B2B waste has been properly handled, costing end-users and confusing everyone else.

The reason for this failure is due partly to the Government not helping to promote the benefits of the regu lations but mainly to their excessive complexity. If a company tries to get rid of its old photocopier, the challenge to follow the rules requires patience and tenacity. This was why WasteCare offered all producers a free national service.

The take-up of our service has been impressive, but we are only scratching the surface. So it is no coincidence that the Government has decided to act. We expect changes in the regulations to remove the complicated rules for obligated and non-obligated WEEE, as well as the uniquely British complication of B2B WEEE. In effect, all WEEE will be obligated and the cost will be spread across all producers.

The implications are complicated but, basically, existing B2C producers can expect a small reduction in their compliance costs, while B2B producers can expect to pay a great deal more. The good news for WeeeCare members is that they are immune from sudden changes as our scheme is designed to minimise cost and underwrite cost exposure.

Once the Government has finalised its plans, we will write to everyone affected to advise them on the likely impact of the changes.