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UK Household WEEE recycling falls below 2011 rate

The UK household WEEE recycling rate for the first three quarters of 2012 has dipped slightly when compared to the same period in 2011, data published by the Environment Agency has shown. And, they indicate that the UK is still significantly short of meeting a 45% recycling rate required in 2016.

The data, sent out to producer compliance schemes last month, shows that the tonnage of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) collected between January and September 2012 fell to 368,527 tonnes, compared to 380,915 tonnes for the same period in 2011.This means that the UK’s collection rate for household WEEE equalled 47.2% between January and September 2012, compared to around 48% for the same nine months in 2011.

Currently it is not possible to calculate the UK’s overall WEEE collection rate for the first nine months of 2012, as the figures for business WEEE are not yet in (expected in March 2013). But, as the tonnages collected in January to September 2012 remain broadly similar to the same period in 2011, during which time the UK achieved a 38% collection rate, the UK still appears to be short of the 45% target set out under the WEEE Recast, set to come into effect from 2016.

Collections in the small household appliances category, which includes items such as vacuum cleaners, irons, and toasters - seen to be among the key groups in which an upturn in collection rates will be needed for the Recast targets to be met - have risen, up to 25,291 tonnes collected between January and September 2012 from 24,223 tonnes for the same period in 2011.

Justin Greenaway, contracts manager at Kent-based WEEE reprocessor SWEEEP Kuusakoski said the data implies that the system is currently collecting at near to full capacity, and claimed that uncertainty over the future of compliance could prevent further improvements.

He added that the only way to genuinely increase this recycling percentage is to tell more people about WEEE as a waste stream and make it more convenient for them to recycle – this is not free. Compliance Schemes and the waste industry need stability to justify this investment but instead we face uncertainty over how the UK WEEE system will be funded, Mr Greenaway told.

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