Good things are happening with the WEEE regulations, all contributing to a fairer and more sustainable system. Nigel Harvey of Recolight highlights those changes of relevance to lighting.
New lighting products included in WEEE
The WEEE regulations moved to an “open scope” in January 2019. This means that, virtually all electrical and electronic products need to comply. The products now coming into scope include:
- Household luminaires
- Gas boilers
- Wiring accessories including plugs, sockets, switches and similar products
- Air conditioning systems
Producers, importers, and own-branders of consumer lighting equipment must comply with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations. They do this by joining a Producer Compliance Scheme (PCS) which will manage their recycling obligations. Very small companies (selling less than five tonnes/year), may alternatively register directly with the Environment Agency. Those that are already members of a PCS will need to include the tonnages of the additional products coming into scope in their declarations.
Recolight has published a definitive guide to WEEE for lighting equipment which can be obtained by contacting the company at firstname.lastname@example.org
Non-compliance through online fulfilment houses and marketplaces
Research published by Recolight[i] showed that 76% of LED lamps available for sale on an online marketplace did not comply with the WEEE regulations. The impact of that non-compliance is significant. Companies that are compliant are placed at a competitive disadvantage because non-compliant producers have lower costs. The non-compliance could also have long term consequences for the sustainability of lamp recycling in the UK.
At the end of last year, the Government published its Resources and Waste Strategy. The long-awaited document includes some particularly good news for the lighting industry: The Government has committed to tackling what they say are “the growing numbers of internet sellers who do not meet their obligations”.
Longer term changes to the WEEE system?
In the resources and waste strategy, the Government has committed to consulting on changes to the WEEE system by the end of 2020. While the full extent is not yet clear, they have said that this will include
- How to incentivise more sustainable product design
- How to increase recycling
- Options for tackling the growing numbers of internet sellers who do not meet their obligations
- How the WEEE system might be aligned with possible changes to the waste packaging regulations, currently subject to consultation.
The WEEE regulations continue to change and adapt. But the good news is that Recolight and The Lighting Review will keep you updated as the changes are implemented.