Date for WEEE roll-out slips again

Regulations making electro-waste the responsibility of those who profit from its manufacture will not become law in the UK for another ten months.

The Government announced this week that the postponed Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) Directive would be implemented next June, instead of January.

The announcement comes within weeks of the EC threatening to take the UK, along within seven other countries, to court for unacceptable delays bringing the directive online (see related story).

The WEEE Directive was supposed to have become law in member states by August 2004 but many nations have struggled with its complexities and impact on industry.

In its announcement the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said WEEE would not be with us before the June date ‘in the light of the preparations needed for this legislation, which breaks new ground for many of those involved, and continuing concerns expressed by the business community and other stakeholders.’

DTI Minister Malcolm Wicks said: “This Directive is about dealing effectively with electrical waste which can be damaging to the environment.

“It is challenging and has required a lot of planning and preparation but our priority is to get this right.”

Jeff Cooper, the Environment Agency’s Manager for Waste Producer Responsibility, said: “The Environment Agency will work closely with Government Departments and the devolved administrations to implement the forthcoming WEEE Regulations.

“We expect to be able to announce arrangements for the registration of producers in the early autumn with registration starting in January 2006.”

Lobbying association the Confederation of British Industry has called the plans to hold off on WEEE ‘the right decision’ and said the extra time must be used to clear up remaining confusion and agree fixed guidelines.

John Cridland, CBI Deputy Director-General said: “This sorry saga is, regrettably, yet another example of hurried, last minute
implementation of major European environmental directives.

“The continuing delay in publishing regulations and guidance, with only five months to go, was leaving many firms confused about their obligations and with not enough time to put robust systems in place.

“This postponement is definitely the right decision.

“The time gained must now be used to get proper clarity in the regulations, and to ensure that all parties – manufacturers, retailers, the Environment Agency and local authorities – have sufficient notice of them to prepare.

“Only then can the environmental objectives of the Directive actually be met.”

By Sam Bond

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