Technology Transactions, Germany, United Kingdom, Technology, Brussels, Environmental Litigation + Regulatory, and Media + Entertainment
The UK’s Department of Trade and Industry announced on 10 August 2005 further delays to the full UK implementation of the EU Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. The long debated producer responsibility and retailer take-back obligations in respect of waste electrical and electronic equipment are now due to take effect in June 2006. The requirement to mark the product with a label depicting a struck-out wheelie-bin needs to be displayed on products from January and February 2006.
The "WEEE Directive" encourages (with registration requirements and financial penalties) the re-use, recycling and recovery of WEEE and is aimed ultimately at improving the environmental performance of all operators involved in the lifecycle of WEEE, including obsolete IT equipment.
Whilst producers and retailers are gearing up to meet the impending liability regime, business users may not be aware of their own responsibilities under the new law. Depending on whether or not the WEEE disposed of is "historic" (i.e., put on the market before 13 August 2005) or replaced on a like-for-like basis, the business user could be committing a criminal offence (under current draft Regulations) for failing to meet (and record) certain targets for the treatment, recovery and recycling of such WEEE.
The WEEE Directive is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of new eco laws affecting the IT industry, for example:
Both the WEEE and the RoHS Directive required implementation in national laws by 13 August 2004. The UK is one of only a few European Member States that have so far failed to implement the Directive. No doubt producers, retailers and business users alike will welcome the respite resulting from the fact that "a UK-wide network of WEEE collection facilities will not be ready by the start of the next year" (DTI, 10 August 2005).
In the meantime, the extra time will allow business users to get up to speed, revisit their processes, identify potential risks and cost effective means of achieving compliance with the impending laws.
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