Only 2% of consumers aware of electrical recycling legislation

July 19, 2007 at 11:48 am

A survey carried out by electrical chain Comet reveals that only 2% of Britons are aware of important legislation giving electrical manufacturers and retailers new recycling responsibilities. Half of the 2,000 people surveyed had never recycled an electrical item and one in five were not aware that such items could be recycled.

The final parts of the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) directive come into force on 1st July 2007. The directive aims to reduce the quantity of waste from electrical equipment and increase its re-use, recovery and recycling. It affects producers and distributors of electrical and electronic equipment, including household appliances, lighting, power tools, toys, and IT, telecoms, audiovisual and sports equipment.

Every company in the UK that manufactures, imports or re-brands such goods must now be part of an approved producer compliance scheme. This allows the type and number of goods produced by each manufacturer to be monitored. From 1st July, producers have to contribute to the costs associated with the treatment, recovery and disposal of WEEE. The Environment Agency provides information for producers, including a list of approved compliance schemes.

Anyone selling new electronic and electrical equipment must provide facilities for domestic customers to return old equipment free of charge when they purchase a replacement item. There are no such requirements for sales to businesses. There are two main options for distributors:

  • Join the Distributor Take-back Scheme (DTS), run by Valpak which supports a network of collection facilities where consumers can return their WEEE.
  • Offer in-store take-back of old equipment when consumers buy a replacement item. Collected equipment must then be made available to producer compliance schemes for treatment and recycling.

One in ten people surveyed by Comet said that their local authority had not made recycling policies clear and 7% believed that they had no facilities for electrical waste recycling available to them. Comet have announced that they are expanding their collection and recycling facilities for large electrical items to all UK households. The Comet service has recycled more than 3 million items so far.You can search for local recycling services at the Recycle Now website. Search results list categories of items accepted by home collection services and recycling sites, including electricals. Detailed information on the WEEE directive, including factsheets for producers, distributors and exporters, is available from the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform.

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