Waste compliance scheme fell short by 1.2m lamps

A Freedom of Information request to the Environment Agency has revealed that the Northern Compliance WEEE scheme missed its lamp collection target again in 2018, this time by 71,500 tonnes, or half a million lamps.

MORE DETAILS have emerged about Northern Compliance, the WEEE compliance scheme which lost its licence after missing its lamp collection target by 700,000 lamps in 2017.

A Freedom of Information request to the Environment Agency has revealed that the organisation – which had 191 members, including supermarket chain Asda missed its lamp collection target again in 2018, this time by 71,500 tonnes, or half a million lamps.

This means that it missed its cumulative targets over two years by 1.2 million lamps.

In January, the Environment Agency withdrew Northern Compliance’s right to manage waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) under the regulations after its failure to meet its recycling obligations in 2017.

As well as lamps, the company missed targets on other consumer and household equipment in both 2017 and 2018.

Many Northern Compliance members – including big brands such as Megaman, Scolmore, Ansell, ASD and Lumenpulse – have since moved to another compliance scheme called WEEE Light.

WEEE Light is linked to Northern Compliance. The director of Northern Compliance is Vince Eckerman, who used to be a director of WEEE Light.  His wife Beverley Eckerman also used to be a director of Northern Compliance, but now is a director of WEEE Light. 

All the operations of Northern Compliance and WEEE Light are conducted through a third company, delivery partner AVC WEEECo. Beverley Eckerman is a director, and Vince was previously.

However, there is no suggestion that WEEE Light is not discharging its compliance responsibilities.

Mr Eckerman was uncontactable for a comment this week but a statement from Northern Compliance’s solicitors – issued on 26 March – says that, on 18 December 2018, the scheme was fully compliant with its responsibilities for the 2018 compliance period ‘barring one of its members which had not fully funded its regulation 11 obligations for 2018’.

‘Notwithstanding Northern Compliance’s notice to the EA and NC’s members that it had ceased trading on 11 December 2018, we can confirm that, on the 22 January 2019, the WEEE Settlement Centre was and still is holding approved evidence equivalent to that funded by its members under regulation 11 less a shortfall of – 10,394 tonnes of Cat 13.

‘The EA is, and has been since December. aware of the member who has not funded their obligations in full although we do not know what their position on the issue [is].’

In a statement at the time of the Environment Agency decision to terminate Northern Compliance’s licence, Vincent Eckerman said: ‘We respectfully acknowledge the Environment Agency’s findings, however we disagree with them and are of the opinion that Northern Compliance did not in fact break any of Defra’s UK WEEE Regulations in 2017.

‘Defra’s policy to introduce a retrospective and disproportionate PBS uplift for those businesses choosing not to join what was described as a ‘voluntary’ scheme; coupled with the introduction of an unfair compliance management fee mechanism, had a catastrophic effect on our business.

‘We want to put it on the record that in 2018 all Northern Compliances’ former members, bar one exception, funded their obligations and Northern Compliance has met those obligations in full, commensurate with the funding provided.

‘Northern Compliance believes in a recycling system that is fair and importantly operates in a market that is competitive.

‘In a world where waste management is a vital environmental concern, it is important that the business of recycling remains competitive. Anti-competitive behaviour does not just affect business alone, but ultimately creates less options for consumers to dispose of their recyclable goods properly.’