There is known to be a discrepancy between the amount of electrical and electronic equipment sold (put on the market) in the UK and the amount of WEEE reported as collected and treated. A widely cited explanation for this has been that a significant amount of activity related to EEE has not been reported.
Material Focus commissioned Anthesis Group, with the University of Lancaster, Repic and Valpak, to produce a consolidated picture of unreported WEEE collection and processing in the UK. The study was to characterise the types of undocumented collection and treatment of WEEE and quantify undocumented flows; and identify actors involved in unreported WEEE collection and treatment.
Researchers investigated 21 different flows that influence the recycling rate for WEEE. Taking 2017 as the baseline year, data was gathered through primary research (e.g. surveys and sampling), stakeholder engagement, mathematical modelling and by reviewing relevant literature.
The report contains a detailed overview of findings, the approach taken and an assessment of the authors’ confidence in data sources, analysis and recommendations. Charts detail the weight of EEE / WEEE included in each flow and the types of equipment they contain.
The study indicates that, as suspected, reporting for the WEEE Directive does not capture the whole picture of EEE flows in the UK. Factors that contribute to the discrepancy include:
The study represents a more accurate evidence base than previously available. The findings will inform national recycling targets and prioritisation of policy initiatives that support a circular economy. It will also encourage appropriate disposal of electrical products.
The authors suggest that efforts to improve WEEE recycling rates should focus on residual, commercial and industrial (C&I) waste. It also suggests finding ways to improve access to unwanted products, or changing purchase and use models to target hoarded EEE and WEEE.
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Mark Sayers, Senior Consultant, Anthesis, & Dr Richard Peagam, Associate Director, Anthesis, July 2020. PDF, 159 pages.Download