Guidance published by the EU has caused confusion over items such as desktops PC’s and whether they should be classed as household and whether they count towards recycling targets.
The Commission published a FAQ document on the 22nd of April outlining the EU’s interpretation of the revised WEEE Directive – which the UK passed into law in late 2013 through the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013.
In the document, the Commission explains that ‘WEEE from private households’ refers exactly to:
“Electronic equipment which due to its nature can be assumed to be used by both private households (professional users). Such equipment should be registered and reported as household equipment and its waste should be considered WEEE from private households.”
However, UK guidelines currently states that items of a suitable ‘nature’ can be considered as household WEEE if the quantity is similar to that produced by However, the Commission does not state whether the quantity of WEEE presented for recycling should be taken into consideration when deciding whether it should be classed as being from a ‘household’ or ‘non household’ source.
This has led to questions as to whether the UK would need to alter its own definition of household and non-household WEEE – as well as altering estimates over the amount of household WEEE for which businesses are required to fund the recycling.
Commenting on the FAQ document Dr Phil Morton, chief executive of compliance scheme REPIC, said that the : “The first thing to say is that if you look at the document in its entirety, it is very much broadly in line with what we have got in place at the moment. The area where there is some discrepancy is around household and non-household WEEE and dual use.
“The FAQs are not a legal document so the government could turn around and say that they are not going to change their definition. BIS and the Environment Agency will need to come out with a position on this but it will not change anything that we are doing at the moment.”
The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has said that it will review the document before offering any further clarity of its view on the classification of household and non-household WEEE.
A spokesman for the Department said:
“We (along with other Member States) will review the whole of the FAQ document and consider the extent that it reflects our own interpretation of the WEEE Directive.”
The definition of household WEEE will be crucial from 2016 onwards, when Member States will be required to collect WEEE proportionate to 45% of the average amount of EEE placed onto the market in the three preceding years. This means that a single minimum collection rate will apply to the total amount of WEEE, both from household and non-household sources.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has also published a set of criteria for organisations looking to submit a proposal for a ‘compliance fee’ under the revised WEEE regulations.
The revised WEEE regulations came into force on 1st January 2014 and proposed that in order to create an integrated system Producer Compliance Schemes will be issued with tailored annual targets for WEEE collection.
Producer compliance schemes that do not collect enough WEEE evidence and therefore fail to meet their targets will have to pay WEEE compliance fee to make up for the shortfall, and will be required to provide evidence of payment.
The WEEE compliance fee is potentially good news for obligated producers as WEEE collection services are likely to become more widely available for all business types with increased opportunities for rebates.