Under the WEEE regulations, distributors of electrical and electronic equipment must provide an "adequate and accessible" national network of DCFs to collect WEEE from households. A government-approved distributor take-back scheme run by Valpak was set up to establish the network and distribute funding to DCFs (ENDS Report 383, p 42 ).
Guidance from the Department of Trade and Industry says the network must have at least a similar distribution structure to those of local authority civic amenity sites.
As it stands, England has 579 approved DCFs, Scotland 173, Wales 81 and Northern Ireland 77. Initial estimates suggest 90-95% of waste disposal authorities have registered sites. Most are civic amenity sites.
The number of DCFs is expected to increase. The deadline for registering sites passed on 4 May, but some registrations are still being approved and new applications are still being received.
Environmental groups will be keen to see more DCFs in London. To date only 30 have been confirmed - less than one per London borough, although approval is pending for some. The number of DCFs in the north-east and the east Midlands is also low.
Community business sites and retailer distribution centres are also thought to have registered, but have yet to be approved.
DSG International, which owns Dixons, Currys and PC World, has decided that following trials (ENDS Report 355, pp 18-19 ) it will opt for the in-store take-back route rather than DCFs. Doing so will cost less, provide a service that its customers want and will give it greater control over how it meets its recycling obligations as a producer.
Retailers offering collection-on-delivery services must register depots as private DCFs and cannot use them for WEEE collected in-store. Other retailers could follow this option.