WEEE debacle continues with further delay

A consultation paper on draft regulations will now be issued next spring, says the Department of Trade and Industry

For the third time in less than 12 months, the DTI has delayed implementation of producer responsibility obligations for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

Its decision to “review progress” will do little to encourage investment in new WEEE collection and recovery infrastructure or the development of markets for recycled materials.

Implementation of the EU Directive on WEEE has been beset with problems in devising a solution for the physical collection of equipment.

The Directive should have been transposed into UK law by August 2004, with the producer responsibility provisions coming into effect 12 months later.

Its latest announcement does not say when the department expects the regime to begin. Instead, it says it plans to issue draft regulations and guidance for consultation next spring.

The DTI gave no indication of when it expects “producers” – manufacturers and importers – will have to register with the Environment Agencies. Nor did it explain the reasons for the delay.

One reason could be delay in establishing a UK-wide network of WEEE collection facilities at civic amenity sites and other premises. Other reasons could be disagreement about how to allocate WEEE collections to the different compliance schemes, and whether to impose a mandatory “visible fee” on product sales to cover recycling costs.

There have also been fears that the Environment Agency would not have its online registration systems in place in time. But the Agency said it had “geared up to register producers of WEEE in line with DTI’s previous proposals.”

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