Retailers have a requirement under the WEEE regulations to take back items of WEEE when their customers purchase a new item, on a one to one basis. The WEEE Distributor Take-back Scheme (DTS) however enables WEEE producers to opt-out of their in-store take-back obligation and is currently used by around 1,200 producers.

Retailers could avoid the take-back requirement by paying into the DTS, with the monies raised invested in collection infrastructure and projects aimed at increasing WEEE recycling.

We previously reported that the DTS was at risk because due to the general election, ministers had not been able to approve the proposals setting out how the scheme would run in 2020.

An interim extension

Ministers have today decided to approve the proposal put forward, but with the modification that it will only extend to large retailers (Bands A and B members of the existing DTS) with retail premises until 31 December 2020. After this date, they will be required to do in store take back in line with the Regulations.

Smaller stores (current Band C members) and online retailers without physical, retail premises will be able to continue their membership until the expiration of the scheme on 31 December 2021.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards will be communicating with retailers in due course setting out their obligations as a result of this decision.

In the short-term Defra has advised that no immediate action will need to be taken with regard to establishing in-store take back facilities, but larger retailers with physical premises must note that their obligations will change from 1 January 2021, from which point they will no longer have the option to join the DTS.

Defra has made clear that “this decision has been taken in the context of new approaches being required to meet the more ambitious and challenging collection targets in 2020 and beyond”, echoing industry feedback that the DTS was not incentivising obligated retailers to offer a take-back service for consumers, a vital component of a strong collection network.

If you would like to know more about fulfilling take back obligations, B2B Compliance can help with our UK-wide WEEE collection service.