Following our 7th November posting on the free rider project – the attempt to identify companies avoiding their Producer obligations under WEEE – the consultants have reported a significant number of companies, potentially up to 13,500, described as free riders. The results are very questionable and appear to be significantly too high which has led the Environment Agency to temper its response by indicating that the numbers were an extrapolation from a very small sample and may be related to very small companies. Nevertheless one area identified in the report is that of toy importers and an exercise is now being conducted with Suffolk Trading Standards to identify imported toys coming in through ports which may trigger Producer obligations on the importers.

While free riders continue to be identified there appears to be little evidence of prosecution or sanctions by the various regulators – much to the chagrin of Producer Compliance Schemes and their members.