31 March 2005 | David Arminas
Organisations failing to dispose of IT equipment properly will face massive fines under a European Union regulation due to become law later this year.
The directive is also likely to result in increased negotiations between suppliers and purchasers.
However, despite these challenges, most firms are unaware of the new regulations and the penalties, according to a survey.
Of 2,000 senior purchasers, IT and financial officers who replied to the survey by Nexpress, 60 per cent said they knew nothing about the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, which comes into force on 13 August.
The directive will make firms responsible for disposing of IT goods in an environmentally sound way, regardless of to whom they passed on the equipment.
"Purchasers must make sure their disposal contractors issue them with a certificate of proper disposal or they leave their firms open to fines," said Dorota Kotuszewska, marketing manager at Nexpress, an IT consultancy.
A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency, which will enforce WEEE compliance, said fines will depend on the severity of charges. "In a magistrates' court it could be up to £20,000 but for more serious, repeat offences the case would go to a crown court where there are no limits and offenders may face jail."
Mike Daly, director of technology sourcing at Merrill Lynch, said purchasers could be in for some hard bargaining with their IT suppliers if they want them to include take-back and disposal clauses.
"Some suppliers could say disposal is an added service. We may find that many IT suppliers set up spin-off disposal firms for such a service, but at a price."
For further information about the WEEE and ROHS directives, see adviser