The Government has failed to consider the impact on UK business with its recent introduction of the WEEE Directive. Falling over backwards to comply with the whims of Brussels bureaucrats, the Government has, through lack of targeted information and properly funded publicity, put a great number of decent British companies at risk of breaking the law.
This lack of understanding and awareness will cause companies who import, manufacture, rebadge and sell electrical or electronic equipment (EEE), to miss the 15th March deadline for registration with a compliance scheme. While compliance schemes must register their members with the EA by the 31st March.
According to WeeeCare – the first compliance scheme to be given EA approval in January and the only scheme to provide upfront, low costs for ensuring complete, professional compliance – 65% of SMEs in the UK have no idea what to do, or if they need to be signed up to a WEEE recycling scheme.
Both large and small businesses who have spoken to WeeeCare – including large producers such Aldi, Belkin and Status – have expressed their relief at finding a scheme which can not only unravel the complexities of the Directive, but also provide a low cost solution, from as little as £6 per tonne. In fact, many of WeeeCare’s subscribers have expressed disbelief at the company’s ability to retrieve WEEE at this low cost, with some other schemes quoting £100s per tonne, and inflated membership costs.
While most of the other EA approved schemes have no experience of collecting or treating WEEE and hence have no idea what their costs will be, WeeeCare has taken the unusual step of guaranteeing the cost for 2007, by underwriting their charges.
WeeeCare’s acting chiefexecutive, Kevin Bray is concerned that: “For many companies the cost of compliance has been completely over-hyped, with some schemes charging them thousands of pounds just to join. Their impact on the environment through supply of EEE is low, and it is right that their costs should be equally low.”
He continued: “The aim of the EU WEEE Directive was to reduce waste production and improve recycling rates by moving the responsibility for waste management onto producers rather than local authorities or the taxpayer. However, this new UK legislation is seen as yet more cost and red tape being heaped on British business are completely open about costs and ensure that we provide the best possible recycling cost for businesses, so they can carry on with the day to day job without, yet another, financial concern. We can also assure our customers that we help them comply with the regulations whilst ensuring minimum impact on the environment.”
The WEEE Directive is a producer responsibility Directive aimed at reducing the waste from electrical equipment, increasing recovery and recycling rates of WEEE, and improving environmental performance of all operators involved in the life cycle of electrical and electronic equipment. About 100,000 businesses in the UK (25,000 Producers and 75,000 Retailers) are affected by the Directive. The cost of environmental best practise is shifting from 29 million homes and over 500,000 businesses to 25,000 producers. Producers need to make sure they are not taking on someone else’s burden or worse feathering the nest of opportunist compliance schemes. Check you know the actual cost of compliance before you commit.