The environmental costs of dealing with waste products from old electrical goods will have to be met by the device manufacturers in Europe from July 2007.
Laying the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations before Parliament, UK Science Minister Malcolm Wicks said:
“Electrical waste such as toasters, fridges and washing machines are a growing environmental problem here in the UK with over two million tonnes being dumped in landfill last year alone. There is currently no incentive for those that produce them to care about the life cycle of their products. These regulations will mean they can no longer shirk this responsibility.”
The new regulations were announced in the summer of 2006 to give businesses a decent run up to the deadline. Some producers are already factoring in recycling of their products into the design process, Wicks adds.
According to the DTI (Department of Trade & Industry), the regulations will:
- Enable consumers to dispose of their electrical waste free of charge at accessible and appropriate places. Consumers will start to see changes from July 2007, with new signage at their local council refuse centres, in shops, and on new electrical products.
- Give distributors the choice of how to meet their obligations under the Directive by either joining the Distributor Take-back Scheme (DTS) or by offering customers in-store take-back.
- Allow existing relationships currently managing electrical waste to continue. This is consistent with the Government’s overall approach to regulation, which is to be as ‘light-touch’ as possible.
- Enable any operator of a designated collection facility (DCF) to arrange with a producer compliance scheme (PCS) to have the electrical waste deposited at their site taken away for treatment and recycling by that PCS, free of charge.
- Allow for and encourage the re-use of equipment after it has been discarded where possible.
- Allows for the continued collection of old equipment at the same time of delivering new goods by retailers, and some producers.