Most SMEs are still unaware of the WEEE regulations, a year after the directive was first announced, the Environment Agency has announced.
Only 12% of SMEs could name the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations unprompted, and just 36% had heard of them once prompted, the Agency found in its NetRegs SME-environmental survey.
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The Agency said UK businesses still throw away one million tonnes of WEEE every year, and businesses still ignoring the legislation could be paying the price through avoidable waste charges and unnecessary effort in disposing of their own electrical waste.
The regulations were enforced in January 2007 to reduce the amount of electronic waste going to landfill. They require producers of electrical and electronic equipment to join a Producer Compliance Scheme and to take responsibility for the treatment, collection and recycling of any waste electronic equipment produced by them since August 2005.
For business users it means that they may return their end of life electrical and electronic equipment to the producer and may no longer need to pay to send it to landfill.
Richard Martin, NetRegs programme manager, said, "We strongly recommend that SMEs incorporate WEEE into their procurement procedures, so that when buying a new piece of equipment they check that the producer is legally registered and already conforms to WEEE. At the end of the equipment's life, disposal should be easier and should also improve the company's green credentials.
"If you use a computer, a photocopier, or even have a microwave in your staff kitchen, you need to be aware of what WEEE means for you," said Martin.