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Laying down the law

Many businesses in the UK do not only have to worry about keeping their business viable, but are having to grapple with an increasing amount of waste legislation. From rules governing how to dispose of electro-scrap to targets on recycling packaging, business constantly has to rethink its processes. However, with new laws comes new opportunities and many new businesses are using legislation as a chance to move into new areas.

WEEE Directive

Although there have been delays in issuing the final consultation on the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, the Government still hopes to meet producer responsibility targets from next August.

The directive which aims to increase the collection, recovery and recycling of electro-scrap should have been transposed into UK law by August 13, 2004. However, the final consultation was released in late July, with responses due October 29, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) stated the August deadline would not be met. And there remain other timing issues, especially the creation of a National Clearing House (NCH).

Establishing an NCH under the WEEE Directive is an important part of implementing the directive but poses a major timetable challenge, according to the DTI. The consultation states the NCH a one-stop shop for producer registration, data reporting and collection - will need to handle registration from the start of next year.


The Government proposes establishing an NCH under a contract or agreements, which could run for a term of three years. Any contract would be awarded via a competitive tender and a small advisory panel could be established to oversee and review the NCHs operation.

The NCH would collect a registration fee giving a portion to the agencies for monitoring and enforcement. However, there is still debate on how WEEE should be allocated to producers and the DTI has developed three broad models for consultation.


Building on existing collection infrastructure is a major Government aim in meeting take-back obligations under the WEEE Directive. To meet the directives requirements, retailers must offer in-store take back. However, as an alternative to retailers offering direct, in-store take-back services, the DTI and the retail industry are discussing a potential retailer compliance scheme. Talks about this are currently ongoing.

The DTI said that the primary objective of a scheme should be to support an adequate, UK-wide WEEE collection network. As part of this requirement, the Government expects any proposal for a retailer compliance scheme to include a business plan indicating how it would make funding available for local authorities to upgrade civic amenity sites.

Retailer-led collection services may include take-back points in major retail parks, or there may be other arrangements better suited to particular areas. The DTI said that the current retail practice of collecting old bulky-goods when new ones were delivered could for part of a retailers compliance as long as they were free. The DTI said a retailer compliance scheme would be approved for a period of at least three years. It would assume its members take-back obligations when these begin on August 13, 2005.

How any such scheme would be funded is still a matter for discussion. In the Governments second consultation released in November 2003, the DTI stated that while keen to encourage separate WEEE collection, the Government does not want to burden local authorities and has instead proposed a bidding system for funding to upgrade civic amenity (CA) sites.

ELV Regulations

Regulations governing the way scrap cars are handled came into force in November 2003. However, Articles 5 and 7 of the End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive relating to free take-back of ELVs from 2007 and to recovery and recycling targets have still not been transposed into UK law. By 2006 and 2015 the UK needs to achieve recycling rate

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