The 2019 Q2 WEEE collection figures published by the Environment Agency this month illustrate that Q2 recycling is down by almost 1,800 tonnes compared to Q1. This means it is increasingly possible that the UK could fail to achieve the recycling target for the third year in a row.
This year the overall target is more than 550,500 tonnes, a significant increase of 13,463 tonnes when compared to the 2018 target. At the halfway point of the year the UK has only achieved 45% of this annual target for collected WEEE across all categories, making a 10% shortfall quite likely by the end of the year. This means that some compliance schemes may need to rely on the compliance fee again to ensure they can comply at year end.
Despite the shortfall we are seeing an improvement on last year, when we witnessed a shortfall of nearly 25% against a lower target. Clearly this improvement is not enough to meet the 2019 targets, however.
As the table illustrates, well performing categories from Q1 continue to perform well in Q2 with Category 1 (Large Household Appliances), Category 3 (IT and Telecomms) and Category 4 (Consumer equipment) all within 5% of their target. Category 2 (Small Household Appliances) looks riskiest as it is only a third of the way to the target at the halfway point of the year.
Schemes may well be asking whether the compliance fee that many were forced to reply upon last year is making enough impact to improve collections and infrastructure. It is also worth noting that the Environmental Audit Committee published the submissions they received as part of their recent WEEE inquiry.
This feedback suggested that many changes are required to really get the system working for manufacturers, retailers, local authorities, treatments facilities and, most importantly, citizens. The important thing now is to ensure those changes happen.