WEEE delay could land UK in court

24 August 2005
More legal news

25 August 2005 | Anusha Bradley

The UK government could face legal action after delaying legislation on recycling electrical waste.

However, those producing and selling electrical goods welcomed the deferral, saying they needed more time to prepare and meet the cost of the new obligations.

According to the European Union's Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) directive, manufacturers, sellers of branded products, importers (including purchasers) and exporters of electronics are now responsible for recycling them.

The EU's deadline for implementation is this month, but the UK has now postponed its introduction until June 2006.

The British Retail Consortium is developing a compliance scheme and the UK says the delay gives retailers and local authorities more time to make arrangements for the collection, disposal or recycling of electrical products.

In July, the European Commission issued a final warning over the UK's non-compliance.

Barbara Helfferich, EC environment spokeswoman, told SM: "It is not for the British government to postpone what has been decided by the European Union. We could take them to court."

But a Department of Trade and Industry spokeswoman said: "We would rather that, than risk doing something that is unworkable."

Gary Griffiths, environmental and quality systems manager at IT recycling company RDC, said the UK had already had 10 years to prepare.

He said the directive's 65 per cent recovery and 75 per cent recycling targets were "achievable" and producers could get "substantial sums of revenue" by selling valuable materials they were obliged to collect.


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