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A tribute to our outgoing Chief Executive at the WEEE Conference

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As the curtains draw on an illustrious 19 year journey, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) industry bid farewell to our outgoing Chief Executive as they gathered this week at the WEEE Conference (21st March).

The annual WEEE sector conference, held this year at the Royal College of Physicians, Regent’s Park, London, provided a timely opportunity for the sector to extend its appreciation to Louise Grantham for her outstanding contributions to the WEEE industry.

Under her guidance, WEEE Compliance scheme, REPIC has played a pivotal role in championing the responsible collection, reuse, recycling, and disposal of end of life electrical and electronic waste. Louise steps down from her role on Friday 29th March 2024.

Industry perspective shared by WEEE Compliance scheme, REPIC

Following Defra’s Senior Policy Advisor, Graeme Vickery’s presentation, who opened this year’s WEEE Conference. Louise shared with all attendees, an industry perspective on what the reforms mean for the sector.

The WEEE Compliance scheme’s Chief Executive, took attendees on a reflective journey spanning the last two decades and shared how and what she had witnessed, needs to be given careful consideration in future reforms for the sector.

A timeline displayed a visual transition of the type of electrical products we had in our homes 20 years ago compared to the smaller, lightweight gadgets we use today. Louise also reminded the WEEE Conference the impact key events have had on both our purchase and usage of electrical and electronic products, referencing the 2008 stock market crash through to the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic as examples.

Legislation was also referenced as playing a significant role in shaping industry landscape and also the profound shift in consumer attitudes over the past 20 years, which has been driven by an increasing awareness of environmental issues.

WEEE sector at a pivotal moment says WEEE Compliance scheme

Bringing it back to what this all means for the sector, Louise shared her opinion that the WEEE sector is at a pivotal moment – a moment of opportunity and challenge and everyone in the industry has a responsibility to harness these trends, to build a WEEE system that is fit for the future.

Louise shared that the right reforms will ensure that the WEEE sector can meet this objective, with the first focus on achieving a more circular economy. “It’s time to shift our mindset away from chasing the generation of waste, and instead towards find more ways to embrace reuse and refurbishment. Of course, much reuse and refurbishment takes place away from the WEEE system, so we need to find ways to measure this.” Louise Grantham, Chief Executive of WEEE Compliance Scheme, REPIC, shared.

WEEE Compliance Scheme explains why new WEEE system needs to be agile

Louise also shared that now is the time to cultivate a market for reused products while ensuring they meet safety and environmental standards. “In doing this it is crucial that our efforts don’t inadvertently lead to unwanted behaviours, and we should look to support initiatives by producers.”

Louise also added: “Innovation is constant, and with it comes the emergence of new types of products. To effectively manage these products, we must establish treatment standards and find ways to utilise critical raw materials (CRMs). By staying ahead of the curve, we can ensure that our treatment processes remain effective and sustainable in the face of evolving technologies.”

Louise’s final point in her presentation to the WEEE Conference, mentioned that cost effectiveness is essential in driving sustainable practices. “Our initiatives must provide value for money while remaining accessible to all. The cost of recycling an appliance is not influenced by its original sales price, so we need to ensure that our system does not place a greater effective financial cost on those who are least able to afford it.”

WEEE Compliance scheme concluded on unique demands of WEEE sector

In conclusion, Louise finished her presentation with a reminder that it’s important to remember the unique demands placed on the WEEE sector.

With the constant evolution and introduction of new technologies, the sector must remain agile, ready to adapt to changing circumstances and emerging trends. A crucial part of this is to be willing to listen to the perspectives of others, embracing fresh ideas and innovative approaches to address the challenges that lie ahead.

Urging the sector to continue to collaborate, innovate and inspire one another as it strives towards a more sustainable future; Louise Grantham departed the stage to a round of applause from the audience.

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