16 December 2005 | Anusha Bradley
New laws governing the recycling and disposal of electrical waste have been delayed again. Energy minister Malcolm Wicks said that more time is needed to "get it right".
It is the third time the UK has postponed the implementation of the Waste Electrical and Electronics Equipment (WEEE) directive. The European Union's initial deadline for putting it into practice was August 2004.
The UK now faces more criticism from the European Commission for dragging its feet. In August the EC said that it would consider taking legal action over previous delays.
The directive says that manufacturers, sellers of branded products, importers (including purchasers) and exporters of electronics are responsible for recycling them.
While guidance for recycling consumer electronics is considered to be clear, confusion surrounds the business-to-business rules because it is uncertain at what point in the supply chain buyers become responsible.
The legislation was supposed to come into force in June next year but a Department of Trade and Industry spokeswoman today told SM there was now "no definite deadline for implementation".
In a statement, Wicks said: "We have listened to concerns expressed by the business community and other stakeholders and have decided that more time is needed to get the implementation right."
He said a second formal consultation will take place shortly and draft regulations and guidance should be published in the spring.
Liz Parkes, head of waste regulation for the Environment Agency, added in the statement: "We don't think the delay is bad news for business or the environment. We believe it is prudent of government to ensure it has the right systems in place before it introduces new regulations."