Legislation designed to put the financial burden for recycling old technology on suppliers and manufacturers rather than all tax payers has finally been fully introduced and enforced.
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive was meant to be introduced in August 2005 but wrangling between government and suppliers delayed the process to the point that the European Commission intervened to get the UK to implement the scheme sooner. The framework came into force officially on 1 July.
Under WEEE, manufacturers and retailers of technology will be forced to pay a percentage of the total recycling costs of the equipment — depending on how much they sell or produce.
Jane Southworth, senior associate in the regulatory group at lawyers Eversheds said the legislation has been introduced along the lines of the "polluter pays" principal.
"After a period of uncertainty, the WEEE directive has come into force, which means that from today retailers and manufacturers need to comply with new legal obligations," she said.
IT managers need to be aware of the directive as they must ensure disposal of old tech is done in a way that complies with WEEE. This means either asking the vendor who the replacement equipment is being bought from to dispose of the old kit, or contacting an Approved Authorised Treatment Facility (AATF), or a charity that will pass on the machines to worthy causes.
Computer Aid, a UK-based charity that takes old PCs and distributes them to schools and other organisations in developing countries, has produced a guide to help companies looking for more information on how to comply with WEEE.
"The directive gives businesses an unprecedented opportunity to help us provide some of the world's poorest communities with the computer skills they need to escape the poverty trap," said Tony Roberts, Computer Aid's chief executive. "We desperately need to increase donations to meet demand from African schools and hospitals and hope that businesses across the UK will realise that by partnering with Computer Aid they not only will become WEEE-compliant but they can help stop over two million unwanted PCs going to waste."