Worried about WEEE? Then have your say

Producers of consumer electronics and those expecting to be involved in the management of compliance schemes once the WEEE regulations kick in are being asked to raise any concerns as soon as possible.

The DTI’s consultation is due to close on October 17 and so far, according to the department’s assistant director for the WEEE implementation team, Debra Huntington, responses have been thin on the ground.

“We’ve had somewhere in the region of 300 questions but only 41 substantive responses to the consultation,” she told a London conference organised by MRW magazine on Thursday.

“The average DTI consultation has about 300 responses, so either you’re very happy with what we’re proposing or our email’s broken!

“The deadline for the consultation is almost upon us, so if you’ve got anything to say, please say it now.”

She said there were still areas that caused concern, such as how to ensure small businesses such as the ‘corner shop that sells two toothbrushes a year’ meet their responsibilities without imposing a disproportionate administrative burden on them.

There are also issues about how to take into account the relative easy with which processing sites serving densely-populated urban areas will collect large amounts of discarded WEEE compared to those in rural areas, said Ms Huntington.

Problems could arise too as manufacturers pull out of producing ‘dying’ technologies such as CRT televisions and computer monitors, as the directive says that only those making a type of product should be responsible for the processing of historic WEEE arising from that product.

As things stand, this would create a kind of last man standing effect, where the company getting the last CRT screen off its production line faces a bill for the safe disposal and recycling of the millions of televisions without LCD or plasma screens left in people’s homes.

Concerns were also raised about different interpretations of the EC directive by the different member states of the union, and the unnecessary administration that required companies selling products in more than one nation to register in each.

Ms Huntington told delegates that the DTI was aware of many of these concerns and, regardless of the outcome of the consultation, there would be a review of how the system was working in 2008.

Anyone wishing to comment on the consultation should log onto the DTI website.

Sam Bond

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