Magazine article Public Finance

Buyers Beware

Magazine article Public Finance

Buyers Beware

Article excerpt

Michelle Dewberry, winner of the latest series of The Apprentice, Sir Alan Sugar's business talent BBC show, might have been somewhat surprised to learn that her new role will involve getting to grips with the European Union's Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).

Sugar wants her to launch Amstrad's new business, Xenon Green, which will be responsible for disposing of unwanted computer equipment. He sees this as a major growth area and one that Dewberry can turn into a very big business.

This is also an area of major interest to local authorities. In the EU, electro-scrap is the fastest growing waste stream, rising by around 3-5% per year, about three times faster than average waste. About 90% of this scrap currently goes to landfill.

The WEEE directive is designed to increase reuse and recycling - with specific targets for producers.

But Sugar might be getting slightly ahead of himself in his excitement.

As those of you who have been following the saga of the implementation of the directive into UK law will know, the Department of Trade and Industry is currently consulting informally on a set of highlevel proposals.

These address some of the issues that have held up implementation of the directive. They include, in relation to domestic waste in particular, how market share allocation will be calculated, and how collection sites will be allocated to the various producer groups.

The focus of the debate is on the responsibilities of producers (typically manufacturers, resellers and importers), but there are financial implications for business users (including local authorities and other government bodies).

While the proposals do not address these in any detail, they do suggest that users will not face any additional legislative requirements. They will be expected to dispose of their waste eguipment in compliance with their duty of care obligations, as is the case at present.

That means that for equipment purchased before August 13,2005, users will be responsible for disposal costs and meeting recycling targets.

However, organisations should be aware that new treatment standards are about to be announced. These might increase disposal costs and make other options, such as charitable giving, more attractive. …

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