In its response to the proposed changes in the WEEE Regulations from DEFRA, LARAC has expressed its concern that the UK is jumping the gun on the outcome of the EU exit process.
LARAC believes that the intention to implement changes to the WEEE regulations to ensure it meets EU requirements remain and are carried out, until the basis on which the UK will leave the EU in relation is fully known in relation to environmental policy.
LARAC does support the move to make membership of the Producer Balancing Scheme (PBS) a mandatory requirement, but only on the basis that no other changes to the Regulations are made. LARAC points out that if there was a suitable market for all WEEE, a better system for PCS obligation, then the need to resort to Regulation 34 would be minimised and so a PBS would not be needed as all local authorities would be able to contract with a PCS. If this situation cannot be achieved and a PBS must remain in place, then LARAC feels it is only right it is mandated as a tool of last resort so that PCS cannot free ride or make an active decision not to contract with a local authority because Regulation 34 outside of the PBS is more cost effective.
LARAC has applauded the increase in WEEE recycling but questions if the changes in the 2013 regulations have facilitated this. LARAC believe it could well have been the case that the current levels of WEEE would have been recycled if the previous system of allocation amongst PCS had been retained, which did deliver full coverage of local authority DCF network on a contracted basis. LARAC points out that the Regulations now contain a disincentive to a PCS to collect more WEEE than their allocated target. This reduces the incentive to maximise WEEE recycling in the areas where they have contracts with local authorities or to bid for contracts when they arise. This can cause service difficulties for local authorities which in turn can damage a resident’s view of the WEEE recycling process, making them less inclined to engage with it in future.
LARAC has voiced concern at the growing number of Regulation 34 requests from local authorities and believes this demonstrates lack of incentive for PCS and shows the changes in the Regulations in 2013 have been detrimental to local authorities, who are not producers of WEEE or obligated companies.
LARAC has called on DEFRA to ensure that the DCF network is fully funded by producers under the WEEE Regulations. LARAC states that the DCF network is the backbone to the entire WEEE system and is essential to how the entire system operates. The WEEE Regulations should be changed to ensure that the DCF network is fully funded and all appropriate costs are refunded back to local authorities. LARAC suggests this would mean a move away from the current application based project funding to a clearer funding on a DCF by DCF basis.