The UK’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced last week the deadline for the European Union’s (EU) Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive will delayed beyond its June 2006 deadline, which was already extended beyond the original January 2006 deadline. A new deadline has not been set, but it will almost certainly stretch well beyond the previous June 2006 target date.
Malcolm Wicks, the UK’s Energy Minister, said there will be a major review of the WEEE legislation that will consider the details of retailer take-back services and the development of a network of collection facilities where customers can take their WEEE-affected products. “We have listened to the concerns expressed by both the business community and other stakeholders over the implemented process and have decided that more time is needed to get the implementation right,” said Wicks.
Industry watchers noted that more time is needed because of concerns over he scale and the cost burden that will be placed on the local authorities that are required to dispose of WEEE materials that are collected separately from other refuge. The DTI already stated it will meet any costs to local authorities for arranging the treatment required for TVs and PC monitors that contain cathode ray tubes and fluorescent lamps that much be collected separately and sent to a hazardous waste landfill. The new review, however, will reconsider this area of responsibility.
The UK delay is expected to draw criticism from the European Commission that originally passed the WEEE directive. The commission announced last July that it would take legal action again a number of EU countries – include the UK – that have yet to enact the WEEE legislation into law. Anticipating condemnation from the European Commission, a DTI spokesperson said, “They are there to make sure the legislation is implemented on time, but in this instance, the decision was taken that we are simply not ready yet.”
Community groups in the UK asked for compensation because of the delay. One of the groups leading the demand for compensation, the Furniture Re-use Network, claimed that every additional month of delay in the WEEE implementation will require nearly $1 million in expenses from recycling groups. When WEEE is implemented, the producers of electronic products will take over the cost of recycling.