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Electrical manufacturers call for a WEEE delay

01 March, 2005

Electrical manufacturers call for a WEEE delay

Britain`s electrical goods manufacturers are asking the Government to delay implementing the EU`s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive until 2006, as other European Governments are doing. REPIC, the recycling body set up last year by 47 electrical suppliers - including Dyson, Hitachi, Numatic and Philips - argues that a delay will give the Government and industry time to agree workable solutions. The German government has already delayed implementation until next year, and other EU states are expected to do the same.

Dr Philip Morton, REPIC`s chief executive, has sent a letter sent to MPs and business leaders, raising industry`s three main concerns:

• It wants any recycling fee to be highlighted to consumers at the point of purchase, so that they know they are paying a recycling fee for legitimate WEEE-related costs and know that it is "ring-fenced" for this purpose. REPIC fears that if the fee is not visible, it may be "marked up" through the supply chain, with consumers paying more than necessary.

• Manufacturers say they must be able to pass the costs of recycling on to consumers, or jobs will be lost. The industry already operates on narrow margins and Government figures show that the costs of implementing WEEE will equal the industry`s profits. If WEEE cuts margins further, manufacturers may have to move manufacturing abroad, Morton warns. More than 27,000 people work in electrical and electronic manufacturing in the UK.

• The infrastructure for recycling is not yet in place in the UK because key decisions about specific recycling processes have yet to be taken. The waste industry has therefore been unable to invest in equipment and training. Morton argues that four months is not enough time for the necessary preparation.

"While REPIC fully supports the intent of the Directive and its introduction at the earliest practical opportunity, it is in no-one`s best interests if consumers have to pay more than the actual costs of recycling," says Morton. "The public has the right to know that they are paying for the recycling of old equipment for the good of the environment."

The WEEE Directive outlines requirements for the recycling of electrical and electronic equipment but allows member states to decide how best to implement the regulations.

REPIC - The Recycling Electrical Producers` Industry Consortium - is a not-for-profit company set up for the purpose of complying with the WEEE Directive. Its 47 members together represent 80% of electrical and electronic sales in the UK, mainly in the appliances sector.




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