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"Open Scope": UK to keep 14 existing WEEE categories

"Open Scope": UK to keep 14 existing WEEE categories

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by Harry Wild, June 2018
Harry Wild is a Consultant in thinkstep's Recycling Compliance practice and graduated from the University of Nottingham with an MSc (Hons) in Chemistry.
The UK government Department for Energy, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have announced that 2013 WEEE regulations will be amended and that the existing 14 WEEE categories will remain in place for the transition to “Open Scope”.

Each EU member state is required to transpose the EU WEEE Recast Directive (2012/19/EU) which requires the implementation of “open scope”. The 2013 WEEE regulations in the UK had fully transposed the EU directive, including a change to the 6 revised categories, however this will now be amended.  

Defra held a public consultation in late 2017 (closed on 8th December) to help determine the best way to make the transition to open scope. 

The consultation proposed 3 different options to ensure implementation of the WEEE Recast directive including:
  • doing nothing (allowing the change to 6 revised categories)
  • amending the regulations to keep the 14 existing categories  
  • transitioning to the 6 revised categories with 3 additional sub categories

Option 2 in the consultation – keep the existing 14 categories was by far the most popular option, receiving 75% of the votes as a first choice, which were made up by mostly producers with some producer compliance schemes, trade bodies and distributors also taking part. 

A major concern was that changing the existing 14 categories would cause unnecessary disruption to pre-existing systems and cause a re-distribution of costs within a very short time-scale, with the other options failing to take into account associated administrative and IT costs to manage the change. Under option 2 it is the responsibility of the UK government to convert data from the 14 to 6 categories for EU reporting. 

The 2013 WEEE regulations will be amended, following stakeholder discussions, to keep the 14 WEEE categories with the “open scope” being included by the addition of products to the pre-existing categories.

 A full post-implementation review of the WEEE regulations is due to be published in autumn 2018 as per the EU directive with the UK regulation being applied from 01 January 2019.