Industry calls for WEEE delay

Implementation of the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive should be delayed until 2006 like in other European countries, industry figures have warned the government.

Chief executive of not-for-profit recycling body REPIC, Dr Philip Morton appealed to MPs and business leaders to join the industry’s call for the government to push the date back in order to allow more time to find workable alternative solutions under the new regulations.

Faced with the same issues, the German government has now delayed implementation until next year and industry insiders expect other EU Member States to do the same.

The call comes two weeks before Energy Minister Mike O’Brien is due to make an announcement on the Directive’s implementation.

Dr Morton stated that any recycling fee needed to be outlined to consumers at the point of purchase in order to avoid any confusion or over charging, but manufacturers needed to be able to pass the cost of recycling goods on to consumers or jobs would be lost.

Moreover, he pointed out that a suitable recycling infrastructure had still not been put into place, with many key decisions not yet taken. Dr Morton said that four months was simply not enough time for the necessary preparation to create a functional system under the Directive, which will carry harsh penalties for non-compliance following its implementation.

Another industry spokesman and CEO of a computer disposal company, David Sogan of Digital Links International stated that many companies still did not realise the full extent of the changes that would take place under the WEEE Directive.

“Many businesses are unaware of this new Directive and haven’t begun to consider how they will dispose of their unwanted equipment,” he warned. “But any electrical or electronic products sold after 13 August 2005 will currently be affected by this legislation.”

Dr Morton said that REPIC fully supported the intent of the Directive, but that it should only be introduced at the earliest practical opportunity.

“The Directive has produced many complex issues which manufacturers and retailers have been wrestling with for some time,” he explained. “While we must push ahead with resolving these issues, we call on the government to recognise the potential pitfalls and delay implementation for a year as other European countries have done.”

“The implications of getting this wrong are too important to do otherwise.”

By Jane Kettle

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie