Tech recycling laws delayed yet again

The government says the latest delay is 'regrettable' but claims more time is needed to get the process right

The UK energy minister Malcolm Wicks issued a statement on Thursday admitting that the UK's implementation of the European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive (WEEE) will definitely be delayed again.

The minister's statement confirms rumours that surfaced earlier this week that the legislation would be delayed further.

The directive was originally meant to become law in the UK in August this year, but in March the DTI announced it would be delayed until January 2006. Then in August the DTI announced that the legislation would be delayed until at least June 2006.

As yet, no new time-frame for implementation has been decided. Instead, Wicks has committed to reviewing current progress, admitting that more time is needed to get the process right.

"We have listened to the concerns expressed by both the business community and other stakeholders over the implementation process and have decided that more time is needed to get the implementation right. Although any further delay is regrettable, this will ultimately deliver far greater environmental benefits," said Wicks.

Representatives from the DTI, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment agency will work together on a "formal consultation on draft regulations" for the Spring.

WEEE is intended to make manufacturers and consumers of technology more responsible for its disposal by promoting its separate collection and disposal.

The delay will no doubt bring further condemnation from the European Commission which has already publicly criticised the UK government for dragging its heels over the implementation of WEEE.

Commenting on the likelihood of EC criticism over the latest delays, a DTI spokeswoman said that the European authority had its job to do: "They are there to make sure legislation is implemented on time but in this instance the decision was taken that we are simply not ready yet."

The European Commission announced in July this year that it was taking legal action against Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Poland and the UK. All eight countries have yet to enact the WEEE directive into national law.

"We need an explanation as to why countries can't implement legislation. This directive had been on the books for a long time, and other countries have implemented it," a spokeswoman for the EC's environment commissioner told ZDNet UK at the time.

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