UK businesses have been given a clear timetable for implementing the EC Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).
The Governments key proposals to be introduced from July 1 2007 were outlined by Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks in launching its consultation.
These include a national distributor takeback scheme which will establish a network of designated collection facilities enabling consumers to return their used items for recycling or reuse.
Other proposals include obligatory registration for producers through approved compliance schemes and authorised treatment facilities which will process WEEE and provide evidence to producers on the amount received.
Accredited reprocessing and recycling facilities will also provide evidence of operations to producers while there will be an end-of-year settlement to ensure producers are able to meet their obligations through an exchange system.
A voluntary approach has also been suggested for producers to show the cost of handling historical WEEE.
Wicks said: Electrical equipment is the fastest growing category of rubbish across the European Union, with around 20kg per person produced per year, and the UK alone is now generating around one million tonnes of the stuff every year.
These proposals are good for consumers, good for responsible producers and good for the environment. By providing a way of ensuring that electronic waste no longer has to go to landfills, manufacturers and importers will have the responsibility to ensure that they plan for both their new and existing products to be recycled rather than dumped.
The consultation marks the beginning of the final phase of implementing the WEEE directive, and has been developed through extensive collaboration with key stakeholders to ensure that the proposals are workable.
Environment Agency head of waste regulation Liz Parkes said: We are pleased to have been part of the Department of Trade and Industrys wider implementation team. The regulations will lead to less waste going to landfills and more materials being made available for recycling.
31/07/2006: It is extremely disappointing to see that there is no reference whatsoever to refurbishing and reuse, to which priority is supposed to be given in accordance with section 7 of the WEEE Directive. Over 3 million fully-functioning computers are thrown out by UK industry every year yet even now up to 40% of UK citizens have no computer or access to the Internet. Instead of spending millions of pounds dismantling and recycling these computers, they could for the same money be refurbished and given to good causes, the elderly, disabled, and disadvantaged families in the UK, and to the thousands of schools in developing countries which have no computers at all. Waste Minimisation is better than Recycling. Why is the Government not doing anything about this ? Grahame Leon-Smith