The concept of "Producer Responsibility" was formed at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The aim is to improve the environment by looking upstream to the producers of products rather than concentrate on the end users for disposal. The idea is that the initial producer of a waste product is responsible for funding its final disposal or recovery.
Four key waste streams have been identified for action:-
- Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
- End of Life Vehicles
THE CORE AREAS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Those businesses with a turnover of more than £2m and that handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging per year have a duty to recover and recycle a proportion of that packaging. Activities identified as being covered by the terms of the Regulations are:-
- manufacturer of raw materials for packaging;
- conversion of raw materials into packaging;
- pack and fill packaging, or use of packaging to wrap goods;
- selling of packaging to the final user; or
- importing packaging.
The main legal requirements of the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2005 include:-
- annual registration with the Environment Agency;
- provision of data on the quantities of packaging produced;
- evidence to prove that recovery and recycling has been completed; and
- provision of information to customers about how to recycle the packaging passed on to them [for more info go to CIO (Consumer Information Obligation)].
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive
These regulations affect producers, distributors, collectors or re-processors of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) in the UK market. This means companies that manufacture, import, re-brand, distribute, sell, store, treat, dismantle, recycle, dispose of, bulk up or use EEE.
Companies affected by this directive have two key obligations:-
- to provide information to consumers (the Consumer Information Obligation [CIO])
- to establish a take-back system that consumers can use to dispose of their WEEE free of charge.
Companies can establish two types of take-back scheme:-
The End of Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive
The ELV Directive aims to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill from vehicles reaching the end of their lives. Regulatory controls include:
- the treatment (scrapping) of ELVs;
- take-back schemes;
- certificate of destruction.
Dismantlers, shredders and other such scrap yards need to operate under tighter environmental standards and require permits as authorised treatment facilities.
Soon to come into force and requiring producers to provide a system for recovering and recycling batteries, domestic and industrial types at no cost to the customer.