UK electrical manufacturers must wise-up to waste

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The environmental support and advisory service, Envirowise, has expressed serious concern over the apathy shown by many UK electrical manufacturers towards impending new EC legislation on waste electrical and electronics equipment and hazardous substances.

Dr Martin Gibson, Envirowise programme director, said continuing failure by companies to get to grips with the directives on WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) and ROHS (Restriction Of use of certain Hazardous Substances), has serious implications for the whole industry.

The WEEE directive will require producers (manufacturers and importers) to take responsibility for treating and recycling their products when they become waste. The ROHS Directive requires a number of potentially hazardous substances to be phased out by July 2006.

"Most companies see these directives as an item of legislation that requires only an environmental response, when in fact they also have serious financial, marketing and design implications. Many firms believe it's not relevant to them for some years to come, but that simply isn't true," said Gibson. "The legislation becomes law in nine months, and WEEE becomes effective 12 months later. Companies who wait until then to take action will be far too late. It is quite simple, if companies ignore ROHS, from 2006 their products will be banned. Companies avoiding the WEEE issue will find they pay the maximum compliance costs when the time comes to comply."

For further information, call the Environment and Energy Helpline on 0900 585794 or visit www.envirowise.gov.uk.

An in depth version of this article is published in the forthcoming November issue of Electrical Review.