Office equipment manufacturer Brother have cautiously welcomed the UK Governments announcement of a timetable for the implementation of the EC Directive on Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE).

The announcement from the Department of Trade and Industry would see the legislation fully implemented in the UK from 1 July 2007, following a final consultation exercise running from now until the middle of October 2006.

Louise Marshall (pictured), Corporate Risk Manager at Brother UK, said: As a responsible manufacturer, we are pleased that the Government has now confirmed a clear timetable for the implementation of this important directive.

After many years of discussion and debate, manufacturers and retailers have now been given a clear framework within which to plan.

"As a leading environmental manufacturer, Brother is already well prepared for this legislation.  We have long understood that recycling is the future, and we have invested heavily in redesigning our products to reduce waste by making them easier to recycle at the end of their life.

However, while we welcome the announcement of a timetable, we are concerned that many major issues still remain to be resolved following the consultation and that the legislative process will be operating to some very challenging deadlines.

For example, producers are required to join a compliance scheme by 15 March 2007 and yet the scheme providers are only being invited to submit applications from 1 January giving less than three months for the Environment Agency to grant approval.

We are also concerned that the implementation of the legislation in the UK should be fair to all, with a level playing field that will encourage responsible behaviour from all manufacturers, retailers and, of course, consumers.

She added: From an IT resellers point of view, the consultation document raises some important issues.

For example, reuse rather than recycling of equipment has now been made a formal requirement of compliance schemes.  While this is a commendable environmental measure, it clearly has the potential to impact on sales; in the regulatory impact assessment it is estimated that reuse of equipment will rise from the current level of 14% to approximately 20% as a result of the changes.

She concluded: These are our preliminary comments on what is an extremely complex document.  We will be considering the proposals in more detail over the coming weeks and will continue to play an active role in the consultation process, as we have done in the past, by working closely with trade organisations, business partners and stakeholders to feed back our comments and concerns.

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