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Producers face confusion over recycling regulations

Consumers who heard this week's announcement bringing in the new WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) regulations and take their old electrical goods back to the shop for recycling this Christmas, will be frustrated, according to an industry expert.

Mark Shayler, of Eco3, the environmental consultants that have been working with hundreds of companies to prepare for this legislation, says people are more confused than ever after the announcement.

“This operation is called 'take back',” he says, “but It's no good people struggling into retailers with a bag full of old electrical goods on Boxing Day—firstly, the retailers won't want them, they expect local authorities to pick them up and secondly, although the announcement has just been made, the new rules aren't going to be enforced until the summer. ”

The Science Minister, Malcolm Wicks, told Parliament that the long awaited regulations will finally come into force on 1st July 2007. They will give producers responsibility for the recycling of every appliance from hairdryers to computers and will allow consumers to return old, unwanted goods to the place they bought them from or to have them collected by local authorities.

“While we welcome the regulations,” said Mark Shayler, “we still don't know how this is going to work and what's to stop consumers putting old electrical goods straight into the bin – especially if they're annoyed that shops won't take them back. We still think time is short and companies aren't ready for the far reaching implications that these Regulations will have.”

The regulations were originally due to be in place in August 2005 but there were so many continuing concerns expressed by businesses and stakeholders that the Government delayed their implementation.

Mark Shayler is managing director of Eco3, a company based in Warwickshire which has been funded by the Learning and Skills Council to run training courses for businesses affected by the regulations. The Department of Trade and Industry has estimated that there are up to 100,000 firms nationwide that will feel the impact of the Regulations.

“The emphasis on recycling is a welcome shift,” Mark Shayler added, “but it still doesn't encourage producers to design out waste in the first place and make products more sustainable.”

Further information:
Shirley Mann, Harvest PR 01283 840695

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