Local authorities to receive £10m to implement WEEE

Science Minister Malcolm Wicks presented proposals to control e-waste to Parliament this week and announced around £10 million would be paid to local authorities to help them prepare processing and disposal sites.

The Minister laid the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations before MPs on Tuesday and also announced that Valpak's Retail WEEE Services has been appointed as operator of the distributor take back scheme, funded by £10m from retailers.

The scheme will establish a network of designated collection facilities where consumers can get rid of their electrical waste.

The money will primarily be paid to local authorities to assist in the improvement of civic amenity sites so that electrical waste can be separately collected there.

Under the EU's WEEE directive producers of electrical goods will, from July 2007, be required to meet the environmental costs of dealing with waste products from their goods.

"Electrical waste such as toasters, fridges and washing machines are a growing environmental problem here in the UK with over 2m tonnes being dumped in landfill last year alone," said Mr Wicks.

"There is currently no incentive for those that produce them to care about the life cycle of their products. These regulations will mean they can no longer shirk this responsibility.

"When I announced the clear implementation timetable in the summer it was to give business as much time as possible to prepare. Some responsible producers are already factoring the cost of recycling their product into the design process and recognise that caring about what happens to the goods they sell needn't cost the earth."

All companies which import, manufacture and rebrand electrical and electronic equipment will have to finance its treatment, recovery and environmentally safe disposal.

By 15 March 2007 producers will need to join an approved producer compliance scheme to ensure that they are able to comply with the Directive from 1 July 2007.

The regulations will:
  • Enable consumers to dispose of their electrical waste free of charge at accessible and appropriate places. Consumers will start to see changes from July 2007, with new signage at their local council refuse centres, in shops, and on new electrical products.
  • Give distributors the choice of how to meet their obligations under the Directive by either joining the Distributor Take-back Scheme (DTS) or by offering customers in-store take-back.
  • Allow existing relationships currently managing electrical waste to continue. This is consistent with the Government's overall approach to regulation, which is to be as light a touch as possible.
  • Enable any operator of a designated collection facility (DCF) to arrange with a producer compliance scheme (PCS) to have the electrical waste deposited at their site taken away for treatment and recycling by that PCS, free of charge.
  • Allow for and encourage the re-use of equipment after it has been discarded where possible.
  • Allows for the continued collection of old equipment at the same time of delivering new goods by retailers, and some producers.

    Sam Bond

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