Manufacturers must play catch-up

Posted on 2 May 2008 by The Manufacturer

New report reveals shocking ignorance of the WEEE legislation, a year after it came into force

New research unveiled this week by the Environment Agency has revealed that 76 per cent of businesses questioned who import, rebrand or manufacture electrical and electronic equipment are aware of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations.
However, although a year has passed since this landmark environmental legislation came into force, a significant proportion of producer businesses have failed to join an approved Producer Compliance Scheme – a fundamental requirement of the regulations. Nearly half (45 per cent) argue that this is because they believe that the regulations do not apply to them.
The research reveals some concerning misconceptions around the regulations, which are resulting in many manufacturing businesses putting themselves at risk of breaching the rules.
The Environment Agency is now stepping up its enforcement activity, having allowed producers a bedding in period to register with a compliance scheme, to ensure everyone understands their obligations and is playing their part.
There are still some concerning misconceptions regarding the WEEE regulations. Over a third of companies questioned mistakenly think that small companies are exempt from the WEEE regulations, when in fact all businesses that make or assemble products which require electricity for their main purpose and sell them under their own brand name, or who rebrand or import products before putting them on the UK market, are likely to have to comply, regardless of their size.
Some companies believe that because their offices are not in the UK, they do not need to comply. However, if a business brings electrical goods into the country to place on the UK market it must join a WEEE compliance scheme in the UK. Another common misconception is that regulations affect manufacturers more than importers. The reality is that they apply equally to all businesses involved in the EEE supply chain from manufacturers to distributors.
Adrian Harding, Producer Responsibility Policy Advisor at the Environment Agency, explains: “It is encouraging to see good overall awareness of green issues across electronics manufacturers – but there is clearly some way to go. We urge any companies who could fall into the ‘producer’ category of the WEEE Regulations to check out the scope of the requirements on the Environment Agency website to see what action they need to take.”