WEEE recycling system financing: case in EU

The reimbursed compliance scheme

According to the Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) principle, producers finance the e-waste supply chain, but this is not always the case, since the EPR mechanism is often implemented via a series of reimbursement schemes and co-contributions from other stakeholders, which do reduce the overall costs borne by producers. In fact, a reimbursed compliance cost is often applied in European countries. According to this mechanism, producers finance the e-waste supply chain bearing costs for the management of WEEE derived from EEE they put on the market. However, within this scheme, also consumers are requested to contribute to e-waste management via a fee, which is added to the price of EEE and which can be either invisible or visible. The value of the fee per product is calculated on the basis of real end-of-life costs for each WEEE category but it can vary depending on the country, compliance scheme and EEE category. In general it does not cover the 100% of costs implied in the overall chain of e-waste management, but just a part of it. Indeed, there is variability amongst countries on the steps of e-waste management that should be financially covered by producers. In Italy, for instance, this steps are those representing the so-called ‘primary collection phase’, namely from the collection points onwards, but there are discussions on the idea to extend this scope also to previous stages.

Whatever are the phases financially covered by EPR, producers can fulfil its requirements either via an individual system or by joining a compliance scheme.

In the clearinghouse model of EPR application, producers –in the form of compliance schemes- can also finance the contribution made to WEEE management by local authorities, retailers and SSE (social and solidarity enterprises) operators. Indeed, local authorities contribute to separately collect WEEE via the tack-back scheme provided to citizens; retailers via the one-to-one or one-to-zero mechanism; and the SSE via the provision of reuse and refurbishment centres.

These three stakeholders are then involved in the system of reimbursement up to producers. In this case, refunds provided by producers are normally calculated on a monetary flat rate, plus a variable rate, which depends on the collection performances of the three stakeholders. Within the same system, less performing actors are thus financially sanctioned.

The option to refund municipalities, retailers and the SSE is a good tool to foster their participation in the supply chain of e-waste management, especially by setting a system of progressive reimbursement increasing in parallel to collection performances, as the Italian and French cases demonstrate.

Municipal tax

Taxes paid by citizens are another way waste collection is financed, even included WEEE collection. In some EU member states for instance, a small percentage of waste taxes are destined to bulky WEEE management carried out by the municipality, even if –as stated- the most of costs incurred in the e-waste system are covered by producers.

To know!

The market value of WEEE streams is relevant for financing WEEE management, due to the value of secondary raw materials contained. This means that in part the supply chain can be financially supported by the income derived from the sales of SRM.

However, please also consider that, due to the strong decrease of the market value of some SRMs in 2015, in Europe the management costs of some WEEE are increasing. This shows the importance of compliance schemes to accomplish the task of e-waste management; compared with the situation with pure market-driven system.


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