Producer responsibility review plans to cut WEEE compliance costs

The Government has published its first discussion paper on producer responsibility regimes, as it seeks to simplify the regulation while reducing compliance costs for businesses.

The paper, the first of three separate consultations issued by BIS, focusses on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Two other papers will follow later in the year on packaging and batteries.

The review, which is UK-wide, proposes small producers should be excluded from bearing the cost of recycling and recovery, but as of yet hasn’t defined the criteria for exemption. However it’s likely this will be set according to turnover, staff numbers and/or product tonnage.

In the case of WEEE and batteries it’s likely due to the specific directive requirements that these producers will still need to register.

Within the registration requirements, the Government proposes to have two tiers of producer registration – a simpler, lower cost registration option for medium-sized businesses and a second tier for all other producers (large producers).

It is also proposed to retain a registration charge for each producer who joins a compliance scheme, but reduced from the current levels.

Those agencies responsible for charging and ensuring compliance, such as the Environment Agency, may see their role change to focus more on compliance schemes rather than individual producers, except where direct registration is an option.

This could result in the introduction of a compliance scheme subsistence charge for WEEE and packaging, similar to the charging model already in existence for batteries.

The consultation has been broadly welcomed by producer compliance schemes (PCSs) and also trade associations.

The Joint Trade Associations (JTA) group comprises eight trade associations and four producer-led compliance schemes, collectively representing over 90% of all WEEE producer responsibility in the UK.

In an issued statement, the JTA said: “Last year, the Government’s Red Tape Challenge concluded that producers were financing costs far higher than the true cost of compliance under the current WEEE regulations.

“The JTA are pleased that BIS has committed to addressing the key issues that are causing this through new WEEE regulations.”

Maxine Perella

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