The comment was made at a conference run by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to help its members with implementing the forthcoming WEEE regulations.
Retailers now have until March 15 to join a producer compliance scheme that will arrange for the treatment of WEEE collected in-store, or join the Distributor Take back Scheme (DTS) run by Valpak WEEE Services, which will discharge members from take back obligations.
The BRC is encouraging retailers to join the DTS, which is only likely to go ahead if 60% of retailers sign up to create a funding pot of £10 million for the upgrade of local authority civic amenity sites, where WEEE can be collected from the public.
Delegates were addressed by DSG International, owner of brands such as PC World and Currys, which has retail and e-tail operations in countries that have already implemented the WEEE directive.
DSG Public affairs manager Vivien Williams said: Decisions to be made regarding WEEE are not always financial. There are factors such as reputation, what others are doing and customer needs, which need to be considered.
Williams added: So far in Ireland, most of the take back is white goods, even in-store. For smaller products, its not really happening at all.
The issue of the best time to start raising public awareness of the WEEE directive saw differing views from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Radio, electrical and television retailers association (Retra).
DTI WEEE implementation team spokesman Paul Brione said: There will be no concerted campaign until we know that the system works. This will probably come in around 2008.
But Retra chief executive Mark Hayward said: Personally, I think that information needs to go out to consumers now - otherwise we are fuelling consumer confusion.