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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
UK sets new date for e-waste law
E-waste in Sweden
Electronic waste is the fastest growing form of rubbish in the EU
Producers and importers of electronic goods will become responsible for their recycling from July 2007, the UK government has announced.

Ministers said the introduction of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive would ease the growing problem of e-waste.

The legislation was introduced in every EU nation last summer, apart from the UK and Malta.

The new date was confirmed at a launch of a consultation on the measures.

Speaking at the launch, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) minister Malcolm Wicks said: "Electrical equipment is the fastest growing category of rubbish across the European Union, and the UK alone is now generating about one million tonnes of the stuff every year."

'Major difficulties'

The WEEE directive is intended to minimise the impacts of electrical and electronic devices on the environment during their life time and when they are thrown away.

Under its measures, producers will have to finance the treatment and recycling of equipment, and retailers will have an obligation to offer take-back services to consumers.

WEEE was originally planned to come into force in August last year, but the government delayed its implementation citing "major difficulties".

While many manufacturers had taken steps to make their products recyclable, problems surrounded the legacy of goods made or sold before 2005.

Mr Wicks said he hoped the confirmation of the July 2007 date would help those affected by the plans.

"In announcing full producer responsibility, I want to provide those businesses who have yet to take up their obligation with the certainty they need to plan for implementation," Mr Wicks added.

The Environment Agency, which will be responsible for overseeing the measures, welcomed the announcement.

The government have gone about implementing this directive in a thoroughly shambolic way
Alan Duncan, Conservative trade and industry spokesman

"The regulations will lead to less waste going to landfills and more materials being made available for recycling," said the agency's head of waste regulations, Liz Parkes.

"We have been preparing in anticipation of our role and have been gearing up to handle the registration of producers of WEEE in line with DTI proposals."

'Longest WEEE in history'

Peter Robinson from campaign group Waste Watch said it was good that a date was set for the much-delayed directive.

"We are pleased it is finally coming into force, and after all the delays it is better it is late rather than a bad piece of legislation."

The Conservative trade and industry spokesman, Alan Duncan was less complimentary, describing it as the "longest WEEE in history".

"After five consultations, a review and three years of delays the government is today launching yet another consultation on how best to put this directive into UK law," Mr Duncan said.

"The government have gone about implementing this directive in a thoroughly shambolic way."

The government's consultation on the key proposals will run until October, ahead of the measures becoming law in December, with full producer responsibility being introduced from 1 July 2007.


SEE ALSO
UK puts back e-waste law to 2006
01 Apr 05 |  Science/Nature
Gadget growth fuels eco concerns
20 Jan 05 |  Technology
Facing an e-waste mountain
28 Dec 04 |  Magazine
EU's new recycling laws looming
26 May 04 |  Northern Ireland
How to make computers greener
08 Mar 04 |  Technology

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