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WEEE will come into force from next July

01 July, 2006

WEEE will come into force from next July

The UK Government has finally published a timetable for implementing the long-delayed EC Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). It has announced that a period of consultation will run until 17 October this year, in preparation for the Directive coming into force from 1 July 2007.

The proposals outlined in the consultation follow a review of the Government`s implementation proposals published last December. The key proposals are for:

a national "distributor takeback" scheme, which will establish a network of designated collection facilities, allowing users to return used items for recycling or re-use;

obligatory registration for producers through approved compliance schemes;

authorised treatment facilities, which will process WEEE and provide evidence to producers on the amount of WEEE received for treatment;

accredited reprocessing and recycling facilities, which will provide evidence of reprocessing to producers;

an end-of-year settlement to ensure producers can meet their obligations via an "exchange" system; and

a voluntary approach for producers to show the cost of handling historical WEEE.

Equipment producers will have to finance treatment, recycling and recovery of WEEE to specified treatment standards and recycling and recovery targets.

Announcing the new timetable, energy minister Malcolm Wicks said that "electrical equipment is the fastest-growing category of rubbish across the European Union, with around 20kg per person produced every year. The UK alone is now generating around 1m tonnes of the stuff every year.

"These proposals are good for consumers, good for responsible producers and good for our environment," he added. "By providing a way of ensuring that electronic waste no longer has to go to landfills, manufacturers and importers will have the responsibility to ensure that they plan for both their new and existing products to be recycled rather than dumped.

"In announcing full producer responsibility, I want to provide those businesses who have yet to take up their obligation with the certainty they need in order to plan for implementation."

Reacting to the Government`s announcement, the Confederation for British Industry insisted that the rules must minimise red tape and be implemented without further delay.

"This directive was meant to be implemented in August 2005," the CBI`s environment director, Michael Roberts, pointed out. "Delays and missed deadlines have left many businesses unable to commit to the investment needed to deal with this waste, so a clear implementation date is a vital step.

"The July 2007 deadline is achievable, but only if the process works more smoothly than in the past," he added. "There is a key job for Government in harnessing the efforts of all the players involved - manufacturers, retailers, recyclers, local authorities and the Environment Agency.

"The procedures, such as registration of manufacturers, must be straightforward with a minimum of administrative effort," Roberts said. "All businesses affected must be clearly informed of their responsibilities, and enforcement must be fair and proportionate. We will need to examine today`s proposals in detail to see how far they meet these tests."

In 2004, the DTI estimated the cost of the WEEE Directive to UK businesses at £300-450m. The consultation documents can be found at www.dti.gov.uk/consultations




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