For some reason the recycling costs imposed by the government (designed to force manufacturers to reduce the amount of waste they create) penalises the appliance manufacturers that make high quality appliances the most. I know the WEEE scheme is a complicated subject and I’m sure it does some good somewhere but it seems that if you make a really high quality domestic appliance that can last 20 years or more (which you would have thought would be extremely good for the environment) you have to pay much more through the WEEE Legislation than a company making a real cheap-tack appliance that may only last several years at best.
I understand that recycling costs may be substantially related to weight but here’s the thing – so is quality! Cheap rubbish that doesn’t last, and floods our landfill sites, doesn’t weigh anywhere near as much as a high quality substantially built appliance that lasts three or four times longer.
Domestic appliances made mostly of metal, and using higher quality metal, are also more recyclable than ones made mostly of plastic and cheap alloys. But because they inevitably weigh much more the manufacturers are penalised. How is this supposed to encourage better quality and longer lasting appliances that can be more easily recycled in a more environmentally friendly manner?
I know that Miele are affected by this and have to pay a much higher penalty for producing some of the highest quality and heaviest appliances. You would have thought they should pay less because they are contributing far fewer of their appliances to landfill – maybe they should even receive subsidy?
Here’s a quote from Ken Watts from the ISE brand of appliances who know the WEEE regulations inside out. They supply the ISE10 washing machine – which is also a high quality appliance designed to be repairable and last at least 15 – 20 years – and therefore a heavy washing machine -
The targets for WEEE are based on weight of appliances / goods put into the market. A manufacturers WEEE Declaration has to state the weight of each appliance sold. So, the lighter you make them, the less that WEEE costs you.
It’s hardly rocket science to work out what’s going to happen is it? ISE and others, with even heavier and better built machines get penalised even though they are designed to stay in use for longer. So effectively we pay more on “Green Tax” even though we’re more environmentally friendly.
Go figure, but that’s the law.
Why does this matter?
If you make a high-quality product it naturally costs a lot more than the cheap rubbish. Manufacturers of high-quality products already have to sell at much higher prices than their competitors and rely on a minority of people being discerning enough to appreciate the value of investing in their product. They do not need additional costs, taxes or penalties to make their products even more expensive. Shouldn’t the government be encouraging manufacturers and consumers to make and buy high quality appliances and not penalise with extra costs?
What does WEEE? stand for?
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment.
*The WEE Directive aims to both reduce the amount of electrical and electronic equipment being produced and to encourage everyone to reuse, recycle and recover it. The WEEE Directive also aims to improve the environmental performance of businesses that manufacture, supply, use, recycle and recover electrical and electronic equipment.