Following the publication of the Resources & Waste Strategy in 2018 and the Post Implementation Review of the 2013 Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations in 2020 (which you can read more about here), DEFRA outlined that they are looking to reform the WEEE and Batteries Producer Responsibility regulations to drive forward our transition to a circular economy.
The circular economy concept is the move away from our current inefficient linear economic model of take, make, and disposal of our resources, to a system of closed loops in which raw materials, components and products lose their value as little as possible as they pass through our economy. This concept involves gradually decoupling our economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and effectively designing waste out of the system.
Consultations on the WEEE and Batteries reform were originally expected to launch by the end of 2020 with changes to be implemented from January 2023. However, with the global pandemic this was delayed and the WEEE reform consultation is currently expected in Autumn 2022, with the Batteries reform consultation expected to follow this (though the exact timeframe is unconfirmed).
The overarching aims of reviewing and reforming the WEEE regulations are to; drive up the collection of WEEE for reuse and recycling, encourage better design of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), and to ensure that manufacturers and retailers (including online marketplaces) take greater responsibility for their products when they reach end of life and become waste.
The consultation will focus on transforming the WEEE regulations, so they facilitate our transition to a circular economy, with the following aspects being considered:
- Greater weighting for “re-use” evidence
- Separate targets for re-use and recycling of end-of-life EEE
- Driving up take-back by retailers and online sellers to make recycling of WEEE as convenient as possible
- Incentivising Circular Economy business models
- Eco-modulation of fees to complement Eco-Design Regulations (more information here)
Other key areas being considered for reforming the WEEE regulations:
- Move producer responsibility to the doorstep and introduce kerbside WEEE collections, to make WEEE recycling as convenient as possible
- Online marketplaces defined as producers in the WEEE system, so overseas online sellers are captured and contribute to the system on an equivalent level to domestic producers
- Review the measures of success and target setting, as conventional wisdom is to measure using weight-based targets, but DEFRA want to explore other options
- Improvement to the treatment standards for WEEE
- To implement a single scheme administrator
Expected structure of the WEEE Reform consultation
There will be two halves to the consultation, with the first half consisting of proposals that are well developed with an accompanying impact assessment, in which the impact of change has been reviewed. The second half of the consultation will consist of proposals that are less developed without assessment of their impact, but which DEFRA would like stakeholder’s views on to develop the proposals further. The responses to the second half of the consultation may result in a follow up consultation with an accompanying impact assessment of the favoured proposals.
The WEEE Reform proposals are ready and the research for the impact assessment has been commissioned and completed at this stage. The remaining actions for DEFRA are to assess the cost impact of the proposals for the accompanying impact assessment and get approval from Ministers to launch the consultation in Autumn 2022.
Similar to the plan to reform the WEEE system, DEFRA are reviewing and reforming the Batteries regulations to address areas such as:
- Issues with lead acid against other battery types, and resolve the imbalance in recycling between chemical types
- Increasing kerbside collections of batteries with supporting communications
- Tackle non-compliant internet sellers
- Resource material and placing on the market measures
- Review electric vehicle, industrial and automotive battery obligations
We are yet to receive further detail on the Batteries reform and an exact timeframe of when we can expect this consultation. We do continually monitor and provide the most updated information on upcoming reforms, so keep an eye on our news posts to keep up to date in this area.
If you have any queries regarding these upcoming consultations, please do get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org to get support.