HP hits out at ‘unfair’ WEEE producer compliance costs

HP is calling for compliance costs under the WEEE Directive to be reduced, arguing that producers are now being overcharged due to the rising value of e-waste.

According to a study released today (January 26) by the IT manufacturer, producers are paying collectively around £50m more to meet their compliance obligations under the directive – significantly more than the costs of recycling e-waste.

According to the report, increases in commodity prices have sent the value of WEEE soaring, resulting in a positive net value in e-waste – even when taking collection costs into consideration.

A survey of producers has indicated that there has been little change in the prices paid for compliance since the regulations began. The main reason for this, the report states, is that the market has settled into a convenient operating position at the expense of manufacturers and consumers.

It further argues that there is a lack of transparency in the market that is allowing producers to be exploited. HP’s head of environmental compliance, Dr Kirstie McIntyre, said that the problem has arisen because prices are agreed between producer compliance schemes and waste management companies.

“This hidden and complex price setting means that whilst the actual costs of recycling have fallen, the costs charged to producers have remained the same. Changes to regulations could save businesses £50m,” she argued.

She added: “The WEEE Directive was created as part of the concept of producer responsibility. However, producer responsibility was based on waste being a cost.

“In this new era when waste has a value, policy should focus on ensuring all waste is properly treated and reported, that producers pay for waste where there is a cost, and that effective measures are in place to prevent waste from escaping by illegal export.”

The study suggests that the UK WEEE model should move to an allocation system similar to one operating out in Germany, whereby producers are given direct control over collection and treatment.

Maxine Perella

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie