Recycling directive leads to price hikes

Companies stand accused of taking advantage of the introduction of the WEEE directive in Ireland

Retailers in Ireland have been accused of taking advantage of the EU recycling directive's introduction by raising their prices.

The EU Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) directive became law in Ireland on Saturday and was immediately followed by "disproportionate" price increases, according to Ireland's opposition party.

"Last weekend saw particular retailers use the first day of the new waste disposal charge as an opportunity to hike up prices disproportionately to the actual amount that was supposed to be added. In some instances hundreds of Euros were added to the cost of large electrical goods, such as plasma televisions, as retailers saw an open opportunity to exploit the consumer," said Labour Party spokesperson Kathleen Lynch in a statement on Monday.

She accused Dick Roche, the Environment Minister for Ireland's governing party Fianna Fáil, of allowing retailers to pass on the costs to consumers, rather than forcing manufacturers to pay for polluting the environment.

The WEEE directive is designed to make manufacturers and consumers of electronic equipment more responsible for its disposal. Analyst group Gartner claimed last year vendor recycling costs will ultimately be passed on to end-user organisations. In a research note, EU's New Recycling Rules could Drive-Up European PC Prices,  the analyst group estimated that legal changes could add $60 (£33) to the price of PCs in Europe by 2005.

Last week, the UK government said it will not implement the WEEE directive until June 2006 due to a lack of sufficient infrastructure to manage the task.