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Computer waste regulations will not come into force until autumn

Antony Savvas
Tough new European legislation on electronic waste that was due to become law in mid-August has been delayed, the Department of Trade & Industry has admitted.

The European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive demands that all electronic waste be either recycled or disposed of safely, instead of being buried in landfill sites.

The directive was supposed to have been adopted into UK law next month, after a final consultation on recycling guidelines with the IT industry.

But this consultation has not begun yet and when it does the process will last up to three months. A DTI spokeswoman said, "The directive will not be transposed into UK law until the autumn. The consultation on the guidelines will start in the next two weeks."

The delay has left IT managers unsure of their legal responsibilities regarding the disposal of electronic equipment, although some manufacturers are introducing recycling schemes.

Kirstie McIntyre, WEEE programme manager at Hewlett-Packard, said of the delay, "Realistically, there will not be any law to work to until the end of the year."

However, HP is already working with what it expects to be the final guidelines and is offering to take away old products for new. "If a company now buys 100 PCs, we will take back 100 old ones if they are not wanted, and it doesn't matter what make they are," said McIntyre.

Hans-Georg Riegler-Rittner, director of resource and waste management at Fujitsu Siemens Computers (FSC), said, "As the laws regarding the waste directive have not been formally put into place in the majority of European countries, there is still room for FSC to decide on the best strategy for managing the directive across Europe.

"At the moment, FSC is taking the time to talk to potential European partners and is not going to make any definite decisions on how to progress."

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