Latest figures released by the Environment Agency (EA) on 1 June are promising and show that 24% of the overall WEEE collected target has been achieved in Q1, but there is still a task ahead to ensure the target can be met
The overall tonnage of WEEE collected has dropped across the board compared to Q1 2020 with the exception of categories 12 and 14 (cooling appliances and PV panels) which both saw a 4% increase in weight collected. Total volume collected is down 11% on 2020, which is unsurprising given that Q1 last year was largely unaffected by the pandemic. Specifically, in Q1, 119,818T were collected out of the required 503,629T for the year.
Although Q1 has shown positive figures, it is important to be aware that the collection rate will have to increase going forward if targets are to be met for all categories of WEEE.
For 2021, the EA set the aforementioned WEEE collection target which was an increase of approximately 9% from the tonnages collected in 2020. However, as we know, 2020 was an extraordinary year for WEEE collections, so 2020 data has not been included in the analysis of historical trends for calculation of the 2021 target. Read more about the 2021 targets in our news story HERE
Graph 1: WEEE collected achieved against the levels required by end of Q1 2021
As the above graph shows, Small Mixed WEEE (SMW) and category 13 (lamps) are furthest behind where they need to be at this point in the year to be on track for meeting the overall target (both were the poorest performers against 2020 targets), so are categories to keep an eye on as the year progresses.
Factors set to affect WEEE recycling levels
The impact of mandatory WEEE takeback for large retailers from the beginning of this year (read more about this HERE) is unlikely to have been seen yet with retail forced to close throughout Q1 and opportunities for in-store takeback by consumers limited. As we begin to move out of national lockdowns, we will hopefully also feel further impact from the ‘Recycle Your Electricals’ campaign run by Material Focus using funds generated through the compliance fee – a campaign which aims to motivate and make it easier for consumers to recycle unwanted electrical items.
Graph 2: Q1 WEEE collected volumes; comparing the same period 2019 - 2021
Placed on market EEE
As a nation, we’ve been busy buying! EEE placed on market data shows a 20% increase in overall tonnage of electrical equipment placed on the UK market in the first three months of the year. SMW increased by 31% and category 13 by 66%; we may begin to see the impact of these increases filter through to volumes of WEEE collected in Q2.
Batteries collections have also had a positive start to the year, with 4,959T collected by compliance schemes in Q1. This is a slight increase on both 2020 (4,188T) and 2019 (4,403T) and puts the current UK collection rate at 16.29% - the overall collection target rate being 45%.
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