The Environment Agency has said that it supported the decision by DTI to review progress in implementing the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Ddirective, but encouraged Government to bridge the resulting funding gap for local authorities or risk losing the advantage so far from the volume of household WEEE already being separately collected for treatment at civic amenity sites.
Environment Agency Head of Waste Policy Regulation Liz Parkes said:
“The UK is already making good progress on recycling large items of household WEEE. We strongly support the additional push that the WEEE Directive will give, particularly upstream with producers who will have to take responsibility for financing and arranging take back. But it is vital that the new controls achieve the right outcomes for the environment and help close some of the existing gaps that can lead to illegal export, for instance. We want this to be achieved in a way that doesn't impose unnecessary regulatory burden on business or local authority.
“We believe it is prudent of GovernmentDTI to ensure it has the right systems and procedures in place for effective managementovement of WEEE – business and household – through all sections of the disposal chain, before it introduces new regulationssets out regulations.
“We will be using the forthcoming period to work through with DTI their proposals to get workable arrangements in place throughout the chain from producer to end-user.
“We had geared up to register producers of WEEE in line with DTI's previous proposals, but will put these plans on hold whilst we support Government on its policy review.
“We don't think the delay is bad news for business or the environment – local authorities already have to manage separately collected hazardous WEEE responsibly and new treatment capacity is becoming available. Making sure that hazardous waste goes to the right place is a priority for us.” In the meantime, however, we would urge, Government to put in place adequate financial arrangements to support local authorities, otherwise the progress made so far in the segregation and treatment of household WEEE collected at civic amenity sites will be set back. Any such setback could also serve to undermine confidence amongst those in the industry who have already invested in treatment facilities. “As a result of today's announcement, the Environment Agency will not now go ahead in January with registration of WEEE producers as previously planned. We will need to wait for the outcome of the review and consultation exercise as it is likely we may need to revise registration requirements in line with any changes that result. We will also want to ensure that the new timetable does not cause us any knock-on operational difficulties elsewhere in the Envrionment Agency's business.