Organisations that need to access business waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in Europe to fulfil their Producer Responsibility obligations are experiencing significant competition from new market entrants who are collecting WEEE for recycling.  As entrepreneurial businesses emerge to capitalise on the resource value of WEEE, there is a lack of clarity and transparency around material flows and treatments that could impact producers’ legal obligations to finance recycling.  This is according to a new paper written by LRS Consultant, Richard Peagam, published in the Yale Journal of Industrial Ecology, on Extended Producer Responsibility.

Richard was lead author of the recent paper, Business-to-Business Information Technology (B2B IT) User Practices at End of Life in the United Kingdom, Germany and France1.  The research shows that recycling and refurbishment of B2B IT units at end-of-use is commonplace, but it is likely that these units are not reported by businesses.  The paper concludes that to achieve the goals of Extended Producer Responsibility for B2B IT WEEE, the networks and operational practices of these streams need to be better understood when developing business strategies and government policies.

The publication of Richard’s paper is pertinent at a time when the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is seeking to reduce the burden on business through its consultation about WEEE and implementing the recast Directive2 and UK system changes to intervene in the electrical and electronic equipment supply chain.

Richard Peagam, LRS consultant, said, “I hope the information in my paper will benefit government, compliance schemes and organisations along the electrical and electronic equipment supply chain.  It is a good source of evidence about the B2B WEEE market in Europe and with the materials used in electrical and electronic equipment becoming widely recognised as a commodity, there are both opportunities and risks for organisations along the supply chain, including producers, collectors, compliance schemes and re-users/recyclers.  The evidence I have presented highlights the risks to producer responsibility and should stimulate ideas to overcome them.”

Dee Moloney, Managing Director, LRS Consultancy, said, “Richard’s wealth of knowledge and technical experience is supporting our clients with their challenges to implement producer responsibility strategies.”

Richard’s paper was included as a special feature in the Yale Journal about Shifting the Burden of Recycling: exploring the state of extended producer responsibility.  Over the past two decades, governments around the world have been experimenting with a new strategy for managing waste.  By making producers responsible for their products when they become wastes, policy makers seek to significantly increase the recycling­ and recyclability­ of computers, packaging, vehicles, and household hazardous wastes, such as batteries, used motor oil, and leftover paint­, and save money in the process.  This strategy, known as extended producer responsibility (EPR), is the subject of a new special feature in YaleUniversity’s Journal of Industrial Ecology.  The special feature examines the use of EPR across diverse scales-­from countries to provinces and states­-and investigates work underway in the U.S., the European Union, Canada, China, Brazil and the State of Washington.  The application of EPR to e-waste is a particular focus of the research in the special feature.