Wednesday, 4 October 2006
Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Question 163: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if there needs to be stronger representation from consumer bodies on the recently established WEEE Monitoring Group in view of recent review of visible environmental charges for WEEE products found that they were too high and recommended that they be reduced. [31082/06]
Question 229: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount raised by WEEE contributions on electrical items in the first year of the WEEE charge; the cost of dealing with waste electrical and electronic items in that year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30959/06]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 163 and 229 together.
The EU Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) allows producers to show the cost of recovering and recycling "historic" waste i.e. waste arising from electric and electronic products put on the market before 13 August 2005. These costs are referred to as Environmental Management Costs – or EMCs. They are not imposed by, or remitted to, the Government, but are paid by producers to the two collective compliance schemes operating in Ireland, WEEE Ireland and the European Recycling Platform. As schemes are operating under the responsibility of the producers, detailed information on the revenue collected and expenditure incurred to date is not at this stage available in my Department.
The collective schemes are established on a not-for-profit basis and income collected from the operation of EMCs must be used for the environmentally sound management of household WEEE. The collective schemes are also required to submit financial accounts to the Minister; the first such accounts covering the period from the commencement of the scheme in August 2005 to end 2006 are due to be submitted not later than 31 March 2007.
Following a thorough review of the initial EMCs the WEEE Register Society Limited, the industry-based national WEEE registration body, announced reductions for most categories of electrical and electronic equipment in July last and these were implemented with effect from 1 August 2006. A further review of the EMCs applying to fridges and fridge-freezers has now been completed by the WEEE Register and these were implemented with effect from 1 October 2006. These reductions are welcome and result from the WEEE scheme's remarkable success. In the first 12 months of operation, 27,700 tonnes of household WEEE was collected. This represents approximately 2.3 million electrical and electronic products. This contrasts to the 5,510 tonnes of this waste type which was recovered in 2004 and indicates widespread public support for the scheme. Consequently, economies of scale exist in the recycling industry that were absent twelve months ago. This has encouraged the establishment of three new WEEE recycling and treatment facilities since August 2005. The lower costs associated in treating WEEE in proximity to where it arises has been a driver in reducing the costs incurred by producers when fulfilling their obligations. This also demonstrates the independence and effectiveness of the current monitoring arrangements.
It is a matter for the WEEE Register, which has an independent Committee of Management, to validate any future revisions. Neither my Department nor the WEEE Monitoring Group has any function in this regard. The WEEE Monitoring Group is made up of representatives from the relevant public and industry sectors. Its remit is to advise me and provide strategic guidance on the implementation and operation of the WEEE Regulations. I have no proposals to expand the membership of the Group.