Material Focus (formally the WEEE Fund) have announced a new opportunity that is seeking applications for research proposals requiring funding between £20,000 and £50,000.

The funding is eligible for research projects that can help to reduce the 500,000 tonnes of waste electricals that are lost every year through being thrown away, hoarded, stolen or illegally exported, as identified in the recent Material Focus report Electrical Waste: Challenges and Opportunities released in July.

Earlier this year, £2.5m of grants and interest-free loans were distributed by Material Focus to support the electrical waste and re-use sector hit by the COVID-19 crisis. This latest announcement is the third round of research funding launched by Material Focus who fund technical research into the barriers to reuse and recycling of old electricals.

It is hoped that insights from this research can help galvanise new approaches to recycling – such as innovative models of collection, better enforcement, and more efficient use of resources, with buy-in from local authorities, businesses and community groups.

WEEE compliance fee

The source of the funding is the WEEE compliance fee, that Material Focus manage. The fee is paid by compliance schemes when there is not enough WEEE recycling evidence to procure to offset member obligations. As the WEEE recycling targets have been missed over the last three years, the compliance fee has become an essential mechanism available to schemes.

Scott Butler, Executive Director, Material Focus commented “The research will be vital to ensuring that we identify solutions to addressing the huge amount of electrical waste that in the UK is currently being thrown away, hoarded, stolen or illegally exported.”

“We are seeking research proposals that provide innovative solutions to this challenge. A key component of the research will be to ensure that these solutions have buy-in from a range of stakeholders across the sector to ensure that they are practical and viable to deliver.”

B2B Compliance scheme manager Lucy Drake-Lee commented “This funding should ultimately promote a reduction in the amount of WEEE lost in the system. It is essential that we work towards capturing more WEEE to enable sound treatment and to reduce environmental impact.”

For more information on how to apply for research funding, please visit the Recycle Your Electricals website and sign up as a research applicant.