Today, anyone buying a fridge knows that they are going to have to pay £15-20 to have their old fridge taken away. But before long there will be a long list of products that will have to be treated in a similar way once the European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive comes into force.
Under the WEEE Directive, it will be necessary for retailers and manufacturers to take back and recycle end-of-life electrical goods using ‘best available treatment, recovery and recycling techniques’, or discharge responsibility via compliance schemes.
Unfortunately, as with so much recent European legislation, there is little certainty over the implementation date. Even the full terms of the legislation are still being juggled with.
Neil Weightman of iForce, which specialises in e- fulfilment and returns logistics, says: “The smart money is on a further delay to the January 2007 implementation date.
“Frustratingly, the exact requirements of the directive are also still a little vague. There are, however, certain things that are clear. For instance, we know it is not only the product itself that will be affected by WEEE – electrical cabling and other components and peripherals will also be covered. If such items end up in landfill, the retailer will be held responsible and, therefore, it is essential that every component comes back with the returned product.
“When it does eventually arrive, the WEEE directive is likely to lead to significant growth in the already buoyant product returns sector as more and more retailers and manufacturers appreciate the need to rework and resell returned electrical products rather than send them directly to landfill sites. Such organisations would be well advised to seek supply chain partners who can not only demonstrate experience in returns management but can also offer economies of scale and expertise in prolonging the life of a returned product.
“Indeed, extending a product’s life – ideally via onwards sales – will be one of the fundamental aims of any WEEE-compliant returns policy. Reselling the returned item brings clear economic gain as well as ecological benefits and is obviously preferable to simply sending goods to landfill or for recycling.
Vincent Kilby, development manager, Cory Environmental Recycling Services, points out that while the WEEE Directive will have a major impact when it is implemented, it should also be viewed in context as the latest in a line of new “Producer Responsibility” waste legislation.
“More importantly, it is part of a much wider trend that is placing a growing emphasis on the need for more efficient recycling and waste management practices.
“With the volume of waste produced in the UK currently growing at around three per cent per year, faster than GDP, the waste issue is becoming more high profile. Dramatic transformations in waste management are now underway in Europe and the UK, largely based on challenging landfill reduction targets and the introduction of new technologies to ‘reduce, re-use and recycle’ more of the waste we produce. As the debate grows, companies are being forced to look much more closely at the waste they generate and how it is being managed and disposed.
“If changes in cost, legislation and CSR are acting to make waste an increasingly high profile area, this is particularly evident in distribution and logistics. The ability to deal with recycling and waste efficiently and compliantly is a skill that increasingly can deliver real competitive advantage to companies,” says Kilby.
Wincanton has been recycling white goods for a number of years and has a large fridge recycling facility and a national network for the collection, sortation and consolidation of goods.
In February, it opened a £4.5 million WEEE recycling plant at Billingham, near Middlesbrough which, it says, is the first of its kind in the UK. The machine is capable of processing up to 75,000 tonnes per year – the equivalent of 826,500 washing machines, 67 million kettles, or 536 million mobile phones, the machine takes waste electronic and electrical items back to the basic material that can be recycled, in line with the requirements of the WEEE Directive.
Wincanton points out that the cost of transporting WEEE items from civic community or consolidation sites to recycling points is expected to reach around 60 per cent of the total disposal cost. However, by keeping the transport within the existing supply chain, companies are able to keep these expenses to a minimum, reducing the cost of providing WEEE take-back services. This can be achieved by using reverse supply chains – using empty vehicles on return journeys to transport WEEE goods. The solution will also reduce the amount of unnecessary vehicles on the road.
By adapting reverse supply chains to incorporate WEEE solutions, retailers and manufacturers will be able to minimise the impact of the legislation on their business, as well as retain control of how the solution is handled.
Gordon Scott, managing director, industrial at Wincanton, says: “By being prepared for the WEEE Directive, companies give themselves time to find the lowest costs of dealing with recycling and take-back, and can offer a key differentiator and cost advantage over competitors. While a number of options do exist, the most cost effective will rely on synergies within the existing supply chain.”
Neil Weightman of iForce says: “We believe that a successful returns operation – and one that will comply with the WEEE directive – must offer ways of dispersing returned items through new and diverse channels.
“Of the many dispersal routes open to iForce’s clients, perhaps one of the most interesting is a planned web site. Essentially it will be an on-line version of an outlet store where returned products can be offered to the public. The site will provide a picture and a description of the product together with an explanation for its return (for example, a scratch on the case or damaged packaging) and the price at which it is offered.
“Because many returned goods require only slight modification to ensure they are in a saleable condition (while some have absolutely nothing wrong with them at all) the way products are processed through the returns chain has a significant impact on a manufacturer’s or retailer’s ability to make the returns operation as cost efficient as possible. Efficient returns processing is vital if healthy profit margins are to be maintained, and significant price increases to an increasingly price-conscious consumer are to be avoided.”
Planning for pallets at Gloucester
TDG Gloucester has been developing reverse logistics services for a manufacturer of nylon yarn, for industrial, automotive and apparel use, which wants packaging and pallets shipped to their customers returned for re-use.
Within the UK, TDG collects packing for refurbishment for the customer and delivers to an outside contractor, Green Tree (Warehousing) of Doncaster, which has specialised in returnable packaging and the repair and refurbishment of such items for more than 14 years.
Outside the UK, TDG liaises with a fourth party logistics provider to get returnable packing to Green Tree in Doncaster. Green Tree then sorts and refurbishes the packaging and TDG collects it to return it to the customer for re-use. All details on returnable packaging are collated and issued on weekly and monthly detailed reports while all packaging that is unfit for re-use is recycled.
For pallets within the UK, TDG collects pallets for the customer and returns them to the Gloucester site where there is a pallet refurbish-ment facility. Outside the UK a fourth party logistics provider returns them to Gloucester. As a result of this, some 60 per cent of pallets and 55 per cent of packaging is returned.
Cory cleans up for Wetherspoons
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TBCIn 2004, JD Wetherspoon opened a new national distribution centre in Daventry to handle its UK food, drink and non-consumables supply chain delivering to all of the groups’ 650 pubs nationwide. Management of the operation was awarded to Exel on the back of a proposal that included a recycling plan drawn up with Cory Environmental, at the time an Exel-owned company, centred on the reverse haul of recyclable materials.
An early decision to make recycling an integral function of the NDC operation enabled the associated procedures and the layout of a returns area to be designed to incorporate segregation and recovery from the pubs of a wide range of recyclable materials. These include used cooking oil, cans, cardboard, mixed paper and plastics. This in turn helped to ensure recycling had a seamless introduction. All NDC-related training and communication included detailed briefing on the handling of recyclables to promote maximum support from the pubs.
At the pubs all recyclable materials are loaded into roll cages in agreed formats, to be returned to Daventry for bulking up in a dedicated area of the 175,000 sq ft warehouse. At the NDC, starting with a clean sheet meant that systems for segregation and recycling were put in place from day one. The recycling system now uses a mix of pallet stillages, balers, stand trailers and skips for the likes of glass and cans. Cory Environmental also supports with legislative and compliance issues.
In 2005 over 3,400 tonnes of material was recovered and recycled through the NDC to be sold on by Cory Environmental. Used cooking oil in particular has been shown to have a value once bulked up and is now being used in bio-fuels. The initiative has led to substantial savings in landfill costs and received public recognition in the 2005 National Recycling Awards, with JD Wetherspoon a highly commended finalist, and through the Environment Agency, which has used Daventry as a case study to illustrate good practise. The next phase of the initiative will be to start recovering the thousands of tonnes of glass generated at the pubs.Environmental Protection Act
Controlled Waste (Registration of Carriers and Seizure of Vehicles) Regulations
Environmental Protection Act (Duty of Care) Regulations
Controlled Waste Regulations
Waste Management Licensing Regulations
Batteries and Accumulators (Containing Dangerous Substances) Regulations
Waste Management Regulations
Special Waste Regulations
Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations
Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations
Landfill (England & Wales) Regulations
Waste Incineration (England & Wales) Regulations
End of Life Vehicles Regulations
Animal By-Products Regulations
Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment
Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS)
Source: Cory Environmental