God knows they have had long enough to implement the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, but it seems the DTI and the Environment Agency still haven't got their heads around how it's going to work in practice.
I attended a special seminar in Westminster this morning which was meant to clear up a lot of the confusion and obfuscation on the part of the government but actually seemed to create more questions than it answers.
To be fair, the concept behind WEEE is a horribly complicated to make real. The idea is basically to make manufacturers, retailers, and even some businesses responsible for disposing of old technology. Fair enough you might say – so they should – so we should – but when it comes to actually working out who should pay in the frighteningly disjointed supply chains that exist in the tech market, it ain't that simple.
This mornings meeting was littered with questions from importers and distributors trying to work out if by simply re-branding a piece of kit they imported from say China, would make them liable to cover the costs of disposing of the tech at the end of its lifecycle. In some cases the answer is yes and in some no.
I clearly got the impression from the weary, and frankly expletive riddled responses from the DTI and Environment Agency that the sooner they see the back of this bit of legislation the better – they didn't seem to be hiding the fact that it has been foisted on them by Europe; in fact the two plus years the UK has dragged its feet over implementing the law is all the evidence you need of this government's attitude to it.
If you want to find out more about the IT manager's responsibility under WEEE – check the Green IT Toolkit..