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By | John Oates 21st March 2007 15:48

Most UK companies ignoring WEEE directive

But so is the government so that's ok

The majority of companies who should have signed up to WEEE directive schemes last week have failed to do so. But that's all right because the Environment Agency is not taking enforcement action even though the deadline has passed.

All companies producing electronic equipment should have joined a scheme by last Thursday 15 March. The schemes then have until 31 March to pass those details onto the Environment Agency. There are 37 approved schemes which companies can join. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive is European legislation which puts the burden for recycling hardware on the producer and distributor of that product.

But a spokesman for the Environment Agency told the Reg: "We're still encouraging companies to join a relevant scheme rather than taking action against them. With new regulations there is always a bedding-in period, we don't want to start prosecuting people."

The spokesman said enforcement would be taken eventually. He said companies would need to be registered and reporting their waste by the end of December - the end of the reporting period.

Dr Aidan Turnbull, head of WEEE, RoHS and ecodesign at Environ, which runs one such scheme, told us: "I'd say the vast majority of companies have missed the deadline. Less than 20 per cent of companies have registered. The main reason for this is that the DTI guidelines did not come out until 28 February rather than the first week of January when they were supposed to come out. The DTI should have put more effort into informing people what was going on."

Turnbull said there were still questions over aspects of the guidelines.

Keith Warburton, chief executive of the Professional Computing Association, which also runs a WEEE registration scheme, told us: "It's ridiculous this was sprung on people at the last possible moment - these regulations were seven years in the making and then we get two weeks notice of the guidelines, it's just nonsense."

Warburton blamed both the DTI and the Environment Agency for failing to properly publicise the changes. ®

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