Compliance scheme battles ‘at root’ of illegal WEEE exports

Fierce competition between producer compliance schemes for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is at the core of the illegal e-waste exports scandal, according to a leading WEEE recycler.

The UK has 36 producer compliance schemes, more than any other EU country. Such a large number has created a highly competitive environment where schemes try to undercut each other to secure business, says Sims Recycling Solutions.

Sims believes these cost pressures have undermined the legitimate recycling market for WEEE and created an incentive for illegal trade. The company also feels that many compliance schemes are not auditing their supply chains robustly enough to weed out cowboy operators.

Speaking exclusively to edie, Sims’ group marketing manager, Myles Pilkington, said that waste producers should not just take their compliance scheme’s word that duty of care is being carried out, but demand to see the evidence.

He added that in Sims’ experience, only a few of the schemes have demonstrated any desire to audit their supply chain effectively.

Last month the issue of illegal e-waste exports came to the fore in a BBC Panorama programme ‘Track my trash’ that highlighted the huge amount of ‘missing’ WEEE unaccounted for.

The documentary was shown in the wake of a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency which highlighted a number of issues that need to be addressed if the problem of illegal exports is to be tackled effectively.

Maxine Perella

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