Europe’s long-awaited waste disposal legislation came into force this week, but new research shows few businesses have taken the necessary steps to ensure compliance.
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive was originally due to take effect in August last year, but this was extended in the UK to January for all companies that import, manufacture and rebrand electrical and electronic equipment to finance its treatment, recovery and environmentally safe disposal.
Yet research by law firm Eversheds found that over half of those UK businesses questioned had yet to put a scheme in place to dispose of electrical waste.
Only 27% of IT professionals questioned confessed to fully understanding their obligations under the WEEE Directive, much less factoring the cost of disposal into the cost of buying computing equipment from now on. But 63% of firms say they plan to comply without outsourcing.
Gartner analyst Lars Mieritz said most IT departments will look to existing IT suppliers to dispose of equipment at the end of its life.
“Now the IT manager must keep in the back of his mind costs he or she might not have thought of yet,” Mieritz said.
“It could be that the cost of disposal is offset by the [second-hand] cost of the equipment being disposed of, or is factored into the cost of equipment upfront.”
Despite this advice, the research found three quarters of IT professionals expect that associated costs to their businesses will increase.
The findings come after science minister Malcom Wicks last month put regulations before Parliament designed to support the incoming law, which included a timetable to upgrade local waste collection and disposal.
The regulations also stipulated that all large IT waste producers will need to join an approved producer compliance scheme by 15 March this year to ensure that they are able to comply with the directive from 1 July.
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