Recycling sector mourns passing of WEEE Advisory Board

Opinion

Recycling sector mourns passing of WEEE Advisory Board

The benefits of the WEEE Advisory Board (WAB) in helping government make sense of the European directive far outweighed the £20,000 it cost the taxpayer to fund the group every year, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The WAB was scrapped last month by Business Secretary Vince Cable but this was one quango that had not grown fat on the back of public funding, in fact its expenses were primarily related to travel.

The UK public has bought into the coalition's austerity measures to cut the UK's debt and the budget deficit but given the relatively low costs and apparent benefits, axing WAB was a surprising move.

It had helped to develop codes of practise for designated collection sites by pulling together the concept of individual producer responsibility, a practicable tool for the government as required by the reclassified WEEE directive.

This was designed to reduce the cost and improve the process of recycling WEEE from householders and businesses, while increasing the amount of equipment being recycled.

WAB also worked on the development of the re-use standard for WEEE that is currently progressing with the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation.

This standard will be published in November under the catchy banner of PAS 141, with interest from Europe and the US. The WEEE directive encouraged re-use but did specify tests to ensure kit was ready for re-use.

Kit that passes the standard will be labelled, which should reduce the amount of illegal exports of WEEE to developing countries. This is likely to be the WAB's lasting legacy and will be copied across Europe.

Isn't the move by government a waste of a good initiative? WEEE will bear witness. 

This was first published in August 2010

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