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High Court rules UK’s WEEE regulations lawful

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Mr Justice Wyn Williams last Friday ruled the UK's regulations governing the collection, treatment and recycling of electrical and electronic equipment lawful and entirely consistent with the EU Directive.

Ian Lucas MP Minister for Business said: "Today's ruling is a resounding endorsement of the UK Waste Electrical and Electronic Regulations. We are recycling more electrical equipment than ever before which is a testimony to the system.

"The UK system has made a successful start with the UK recycling the equivalent of roughly 7kg per head of population last year, far in excess of the 4kg requirement set by the European Commission. There is clearly more to be done and I hope today's judgement gives producers and their compliance schemes the certainty in the regulations they have been seeking.

"It is now time for all producers and their representative organisations including Repic and its members to operate in partnership to ensure the UK WEEE system works to the advantage of all involved; maximising the separate collection of WEEE in the UK and ensuring the highest standards of treatment and reprocessing.

"The Government will continue to monitor the system and will be bringing forward amendments to the regulations for introduction in 2010 which will streamline the system and reduce the administrative burden placed on businesses. We will also be working alongside other member states to ensure the recast of the directive fits with the needs of UK producers and other stakeholders."

Producer compliance scheme Repic, brought a Judicial Review in the High Court against the Department for Business and the Environment Agency claiming:

·      The continued failure of the Environment Agency to take enforcement action against schemes which are deliberately and significantly over-collecting WEEE is unlawful, and

·      The UK WEEE Regulations are unlawful insofar as they fail to provide any mechanism to prevent schemes from charging excessive prices for evidence notes at the end of each compliance period

In ruling against Repic, Mr Justice Williams recognised there was inevitably a "settling down" period on introduction of the regulations in 2007 and the power to take enforcement action is discretionary and had not been precluded by the defendants. He also confirmed the regulations represented a lawful transposition of the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive into national law.

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