Project to explore fate of electricals and e-waste unveiled

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The WEEE Fund has announced a project, to be completed by the end of 2019, that will look at how e-waste management is being undertaken and why more material is not being made available for recycling.

Since the 2013 Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations came into force there has been a reporting gap between the weight of sales of electrical and electronics equipment (EEE) and WEEE collections and treatment.

There have been a number of studies into unreported reuse, collection, storage and treatment and disposal of WEEE at a relatively high level and focused on specific streams. This is because, given their very nature, unreported activity is challenging to characterise, engage with and quantify. Unreported activity includes second-hand sales, reuse and repair, undocumented storage and export, illegal disposal and incorrect administration.

Commenting Scott Butler, WEEE Fund Manager, said: “When we consulted with businesses working in this area this was a topic that was raised time and time again: what is happening to this equipment and why isn’t it available for recycling in the quantities we expect?

“The WEEE Fund, using money from the 2017 WEEE Compliance Fee, presents an opportunity to produce a robust and consolidated view of unreported activity to guide policy makers and strategies on WEEE collection and to allow for more formal reporting.”

The project is being delivered by a team of researchers from the University of Lancaster, compliance schemes REPIC and Valpak and will be led by the sustainability consultancy Anthesis.

The project comprises of three phases:

Phase 1: Review of existing information, calculating potential WEEE generated for major product types and prioritise areas for further research.

Phase 2: Gather further data on activity identified in phase 1 via desk top research and analysis, stakeholder engagement and primary data collection.

Phase 3: Analysis and synthesis of data and substantiated estimates.

It is expected to conclude by the end of 2019.

Dr Richard Peagam, Associate Director, Anthesis said that with such a strong team of partners that the project would enhance the UK's strategy for collecting and recycling WEEE.

"We are keen to bring in a wide range of stakeholders to tackle common challenges and inform suture sustainability improvements," he said.

The project is being financed via the WEEE Fund generated from the WEEE Compliance Fee in 2017. More information on the WEEE Compliance Fee Fund 2017 is available at