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Industry News

Published on November 25th, 2020 | by The GC Team


Are electrical retailers prepared for mandatory in-store take-back?

From 1st January 2021, legislation is changing.

Retailer take-back has been a requirement since the introduction of the WEEE regulations in 2006, but many retailers signed up to the Distributor Take-Back Scheme (DTS) which funded local councils to collect waste products on their behalf. When the DTS ends in January, more than 600 larger businesses will be affected. The remaining 600 will need to have systems in place by 2022.

Feedback from environmental compliance scheme Valpak, which manages compliance for more than 4,000 businesses, shows that many of the 600 retailers affected do not have plans in place for the take-back of waste products in-store.

Valpak Commercial Account Manager Matt Luntley discusses: “Retailers have already faced a great many new challenges in 2020. While most are aware of this change, no one can predict how popular the new scheme will prove with the public. This makes forward planning very difficult.

“On the positive side, with only 35% of household waste recycling centres operating at normal levels1, there is a real opportunity for retailers who embrace the new scheme to gain additional footfall with the introduction of in-store take-back.”

Retailers need to assess the impact of different collection systems. For example, collecting from a central distribution route incurs the lowest costs but requires a greater level of administration than collection from individual stores. Staff training and variations in requirements across the devolved nations also need to be taken into consideration.

Luntley says Valpak has been liaising closely with retailers and with the enforcement body, the Office for Product Safety and Standards, to clarify the finer details.

“The big challenge for retailers at this stage,” he states, “is uncertainty over participation levels, so it helps to build in flexibility. At Valpak, for example, we supply our own collapsible pallet box, or take palletised items. Collections can also be scheduled or arranged when needed.”

Along with other EU countries, the UK has failed to hit its target for recycling waste electrical and electronic equipment for the last three years.

According to Luntley, the new scheme is expected to make around 5,000 extra drop-off points available which, it is hoped, will have a big impact on the volume of WEEE recycled in the UK.

1https://www.adeptnet.org.uk/system/files/documents/ADEPT 20Waste 20Survey 2016 20WC 20070920.pdf

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