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Printer cartridge WEEE exclusion will not wreck reuse levels

By Rebecca Thyer

The Government does not believe that excluding printer cartridges from the scope of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive will cause reuse levels to drop.

In response to this months Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report it stated: If printer cartridges were to be included, original equipment manufacturers would be obliged to take back their old printer cartridges when supplying new ones and recycle them, thus leaving fewer cartridges available for re-manufacturers to refill.

However, some reuse and recycling companies disagreed.

Scott Lescak, quality systems manager of Falkirk-based Eurosource, told MRW: Printer cartridges need to be included in some form of legislation to encourage their reuse and recycling.

The business has recycled more than 1,000,000kg of mobile phones and printer cartridges since it was started five years ago.

Lescak said: The WEEE Directive should drive the public as well as manufacturers. If printer cartridges are excluded from the UKs interpretation it wont make the public and manufacturers think about them.

The Government has been lobbied on the issue of printer cartridges but Lescak said: I dont think it will make an impact now. There is no impetus for the Government to include it.

Instead he believed that printer cartridges would be included in the Energy-Using Products (EUP) Directive. It should be out in draft format in the next few years. But that leaves an interim period.

Its a shame. Theres no reason for them not to be covered. At least attention is being drawn to the fact that they are highly reusable. Any publicity is good publicity.

Eurosource believed that as waste consumables printer cartridges should be included in the UKs interpretation. The directive states: Where appropriate, priority should be given to the reuse of WEEE and its components, subassemblies and consumables.

However the Government stated: Printer cartridges do not fall within the scope of the WEEE Directive. However, they do fall within the scope of the current text of the EUP Directive and could be the subject of an implementing measure if manufacturers were to begin using devices that specifically prevent reuse of printer cartridges in the future.

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