Guidelines released for recycling electronic waste

Disposal and recycling guidelines for manufacturers of electronic waste were published this week by the Environment Agency (EA) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

Due to come into force from August 2005, the regulations will implement the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive. All producers, importers and retailers of electrical and electronic equipment will be responsible for establishing a collection network for the treatment, recycling or recovery of products.

Head of waste regulation at the EA, Liz Parkes said: "We are keen to ensure that all those involved in the treatment of electronic waste are fully prepared for what will be required of them under the WEEE directive. This proposed guidance is an important step towards that."

Around one million tonnes of electronic waste is thrown away each year in the UK which contains lead, mercury and CFCs, harmful both to humans and the environment. Ms Parkes stated that we need to regulate the hazardousness of the waste we are creating: "While many large household appliances such as cookers and washing machines do get recycled, most types of electronic waste are not treated or recycled and end up in landfill. The amount and hazardousness of this waste must be reduced."

But much confusion still exists within the industry as to exactly how the directive will be enforced despite the new guidelines, according to Pascal Leroy, government affairs manager for the environment at the European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers (CECED).

Mr Leroy told edie: "We do not think that the directive will be implementable or enforceable, and concerns that companies will be left seriously exposed by the WEEE directive are shared throughout the industry."

The key issue was still that no-one really knew who the legally responsible parties were for much of the waste. Mr Leroy said that the definition between the role of the producer and the retailer remained to be clarified sufficiently, despite CECED having raised the issue with authorities since 2001.

By Jane Kettle



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