Brussels — Well before the introduction of photovoltaic panels into the new UK WEEE Regulations PV CYCLE was working with UK government to ensure a sustainable and efficient collection system for PV panels was established throughout the UK. As the WEEE Regulations are structured on an assumption that most household-generated WEEE is collected through municipal systems the Government’s decision to create a new category, specifically for PV, was in recognition that Producers of PV panels shouldn’t contribute towards collections of consumer WEEE but should be responsible for a separate PV-dedicated collection infrastructure.
Furthermore PV panels, which are long term investment products, handled by professionals, and largely not disposed of through municipal systems, also need to be transported to suitable recycling facilities – of which none are envisaged for the UK for many years due to low volumes of waste PV. Although Producers (generally importers) are required to join a Producer Compliance Scheme, installers and retailers (confusingly known as Distributors under the Regulations) also have obligations under the Regulations. While the Regulations generally assume typical retailer (shop-based) operations, nevertheless, Distributors of PV panels have certain legal obligations (and Producers can also be Distributors) to ensure take-back of old products.
Conventional consumer product Distributors, over the years, have had the ability to either meet their obligations ‘in-store’ or join a single Government-appointed Distributor Take-back Scheme (DTS) which finances collections though local authority sites (also known as Dedicated Collection Facilities in the Regulations). Clearly it would be meaningless for Distributors of PV panels to join a DTS which only finances municipal collection systems which will not accept PV panels in future.
Drawing on its significant experience of collection and recycling of many thousands of tonnes of PV WEEE across Europe PV CYCLE was in a prime position to propose a national PV-dedicated collection system to UK government.
PV CYCLE has now received approval from the Secretary of State to operate a parallel DTS – purely focused on the collection of PV panels through a network of PV-dedicated collection facilities (DCFs). These DCFs build upon the voluntary network developed before the Regulations came into force and Distributors, who join the PV CYCLE DTS, will be able to utilise this network as part of their service delivery to their customers.
Distributors of PV panels, under the WEEE Regulations, will be subject to regulatory activity by the VCA (Vehicle Certification Agency) whose role it will be to ensure that the Distributor either undertakes its individual responsibilities under the Regulations or joins the PV CYCLE DTS.
PV CYCLE has liaised closely with the VCA prior to its forthcoming launch of the PV CYCLE DTS and VCA has held back from contacting Distributors until the DTS is in place.
While there are valid regulatory reasons for Distributors of PV panels to join the PV CYCLE DTS the key long term issue is that it is essential that the industry works together to satisfy government that is has a robust and sustainable system for the separate collection of PV panels. If not, then the risk is that Producers of PV panels will have to pay for the collection of PV panels through the conventional mechanism based upon weight of products (which includes consumer products) placed on the market. As about 120,000 tonnes per annum of PV panels are being placed on the market (but very little PV WEEE being collected) then the contribution that Producers of PV panels would be making for the collection of consumer WEEE would result in significant increase in the costs of new panels to Distributors.
PV CYCLE is delighted to announce that, following testing of its IT systems, the DTS will be launched in April allowing a simple on-line registration, certification and compliance for Distributors in return for a small payment covering membership until the end of 2016.
Membership of the DTS will be pitched simply at three levels and, regardless of the joining date, will provide compliance until December 2016 – the three levels are:
- For Distributors below the VAT threshold @ £45 + VAT
- Less than £1 million turnover @ £60 + VAT
- Greater than £1 million turnover @ £90 + VAT
PV CYCLE will be advising the key trade associations in advance of the launch and will be contacting all known Distributors following the launch to ensure a unified PV sector response and legal compliance for Distributors of PV panels.
Source: PV CYCLE