MANUFACTURERS of lighting equipment including luminaires and lamps are to be made responsible for the recycling of their products when they become waste under a new UK government strategy.
The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs looks set to bring to the lighting industry the concept of ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’. Under EPR, manufacturers will come under pressure to consider how easily their light fittings can be dismantled and redesign them appropriately.
The UK government has become especially concerned about LED lamps and luminaires, often sealed units which are discarded when one element – such as the light engine or driver – fails. A multiplicity of designs has also made it more difficult for recyclers to handle compared to, for example, fluorescent lamps.
EPR is widely seen both as solving some of the waste funding problems experienced by local authorities, and as encouraging producers to adopt a circular economy approach.
EPR will feature heavily in Defra’s forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy, which is already implemented in four industries: electrical equipment, batteries, packaging, and vehicles.
Recolight, the leading industry compliance scheme which assists manufacturers comply with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment legislation, welcomed Defra’s plans.
Recolight CEO Nigel Harvey told Lux: ‘Extended Producer Responsibility is a great way to encourage joined up circular thinking through the produce-use-waste cycle. It is great to see Defra putting it centre stage. But there are clear pitfalls which must be avoided to ensure effective and sustainable legislation.
‘Firstly, the huge growth of product sales through online marketplaces that avoids compliance with WEEE and other EPR regimes must be addressed.
‘Experience has shown that voluntary agreements will not work, and legislation to require compliance of online marketplaces and fulfilment houses is essential.
‘And secondly, there is now an urgent need to review the small producer definition. Companies have been able to register as small producers, confident that their data will never be checked.
‘Both of these loopholes need to be closed – they are likely to be the source of considerable abuse and fraud in the WEEE system.’
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