KwikSweep is one of the capital’s leading providers of WEEE disposal services for homes and businesses, so naturally we were eager to hear what the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) would set as its new WEEE targets for this year. Many (including us) will be surprised to learn that the predicted target has been revised down slightly, making this year’s WEEE targets a little easier to reach than last year’s.
It was expected that the target would be in excess of 633,000 tonnes for the year – but DEFRA’s goal is actually a shade lower, at 622,033 tonnes. This is still a 14.3% increase on last year’s target of 544,342 tonnes, and is still 40,000 tonnes higher than the total WEEE actually collected in 2016.
However, there has been some debate in the industry about whether revising the targets is a good move – especially when the totals are still well shy of the recommended EU target of 776,000 tonnes. Some of the categories of WEEE have also had their targets set at a lower level, with display equipment and lamps all impacted.
Key areas with lower targets
The lamp collection target is one which came under the microscope, after it emerged businesses had not collected the sufficient number of lamps to meet the target for 2016. The 2016 target was initially increased as a result of changes to ‘dual use’ classifications, which many predicted would cause a surge of lamps coming through the WEEE system. The surge didn’t materialise, and it meant that this target was missed and a compliance fee had to be paid.
Large household appliances is another one of the areas which saw the target set at a lower rate than expected. This includes items like fridges, washing machines, dishwashers, electric radiators and microwaves. Many would assume that this would be an area where targets should be continuously stretched, to encourage as many people as possible to recycle these items responsibly. So why would DEFRA reduce the target?
Their explanation is fairly simple. Collections in 2016 ran at 21% higher than in 2015 – much higher than in previous years. Fluctuations in scrap prices and metal prices (which can cause collectors to deal with appliances outside of the official system when revenues are reduced) have meant that instead of using the years 2016 and 2017 as indicators for the next targets, DEFRA has chosen to use the annual growth rates between 2012 and 2015. This creates the new large appliance target of 232,811. Basically, they’re saying that 2016’s figures were a fluke, an anomaly, and we should still be using the previous data to come up with reasonable forecasts and targets.
The KwikSweep view
Some experts have come out in support of the revised targets, saying that the 2017 targets were enough of a stretch while still being achievable. Here at KwikSweep, we believe that businesses should be encouraged to recycle as much as they possibly can, rather than revising targets down in order to avoid looking bad when the targets are missed.
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