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Major concerns about WEEE directive - COMMENT UPDATE

Businesses believe that the introduction of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) legislation has been poorly managed according to preliminary results from a UK-wide survey among businesses affected by it.

Researchers from the Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) based at Cardiff University want to assess the current impact of the implementation process of EU legislation for businesses working in the electrical and electronic equipment supply chain.

Though the survey is open until July the researchers received over 100 responses within days of sending out the survey and decided to conduct a preliminary analysis of selected questions.

This has found that though a minority of respondents were supportive of the UK Government’s handling of the implementation process the majority have expressed some major concerns.

Concern over the Government’s handling of the awareness raising and consultation process, provision of timely guidance to industry, and general criticism of the WEEE and Restriction of Hazardous substances (RoHS) directive were raised.

One response described the introduction of the WEEE directive as “shambolic” and another dealing with the reuse of IT and telecommunications equipment felt “badly let down” by the directive - being steered towards the shredding and destruction of equipment that could be reused.

Anxiety over the cost burden of the RoHS directive and lack of guidance was also brought up. But some businesses mentioned benefits — such as internal audits leading to environmental and financial gains.

The survey is part of ongoing research into changes affecting the electronics industry globally and was sent to over 6,000 electrical and electronic goods manufacturers and related industrial sectors in the UK.

Preliminary reports and the survey can be found at www.brass.cf.ac.uk

Comment:

22/06/06: There is a lot of frustration in the IT channel at the WEEE Directive. There is a ripple effect throughout the WEEE supply chain. Recyclers and reprocesses of WEEE are the ones experiencing most of the pain. Waste organisations have invested considerable sums in reprocessing facilities that are under-utilised due to delay and lack of clarity around the Directive. The public outcry when fridges were allowed to pile up in mountains is not being allowed to happen again — yet sometimes it seems to us that waste companies taking the initiative to prevent mountains of PCs and CRTs are being hit in the pocket because collection systems are not fully in place There is a nervousness in the waste industry about investing further around WEEE. But the companies that do (and this includes software systems like ours to manage the treatment, transportation, storage and WEEE compliance reporting)are likely to be the market leaders when the legislation comes into force.
Posted by Andrew Nevitt

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